Miller Center

John Tyler: Life After the Presidency

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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.

Citation Information

Consulting Editor

William Freehling

Professor Freehling is a senior fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the emeritus Singletary Professor of the Humanities at the University of Kentucky. His writings include:

The Road to Disunion, 1776–1861 (2 volumes; Oxford University Press, 1990 and 2007)

The Reintegration of American History: Slavery and the Civil War (Oxford University Press, 1994)

Prelude to Civil War: the Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816–1836 (Oxford University Press, 1992)