Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Life After the Presidency

Just hours after Polk's inauguration in March of 1844, John and Julia Tyler were on their way home to Virginia. They retired to the former President's plantation and the rapidly vanishing world of Old Dominion aristocracy. While money was often tight, they lived comfortably and the family grew larger.

In 1860, with the Civil War looming, Tyler tried in vain to avert the conflict by chairing a "Peace Convention" between representatives of both northern and southern states. Unfortunately, no agreement could be reached between Tyler and President-elect Abraham Lincoln, and the Richmond Convention collapsed in failure. Tyler then became a leading proponent of southern secession, and in late 1861, he was elected to the Confederate House of Representatives. Days before the first meeting, however, John Tyler died, denounced in the North as a traitor.