10th President John Tyler’s Grandsons Still Celebrating the Legacy

A few days ago – March 29, 2018 – was the 228th anniversary of the birth of 10th U.S. President John Tyler.

Believe it or not, two of his grandchildren are still alive to celebrate the occasion.

Tyler was born only one year after George Washington was sworn in as the first president of the United States. How could any of his grandchildren still be with us?

But it’s true. Harrison Ruffin Tyler is 89 years old and his older brother, Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr. is 93 years of age. I’m going to let you know how this is possible in a moment. But first, a little history regarding our 10th president is in order.

A Lengthy Political Career

John Tyler was born into a prominent family in Charles City County, Virginia. His father was a judge and a former college roommate of Thomas Jefferson.

Future President John Tyler represented Charles City County in the House of Delegates. He also served in the War of 1812 and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

He then returned to local politics, became Governor of Virginia and was elected to the U.S. Senate. With Tyler as his vice president, William Henry Harrison was elected president in 1840. Their campaign slogan was “Tippecanoe and Tyler too.”

Harrison died shortly after taking office. Tyler then became the first person to become president as the result of a president’s death. Tyler served as president from 1841 to 1845.

Young Second Wives Are the Key

As to how two of Tyler’s grandchildren could still be alive today – 228 years after their famous grandfather was born…

It all comes down to young second wives. Tyler’s first wife died while he was president. He then became the first president to marry while in the White House when he wed Julia Gardiner.

At 22 years of age, she was 30 years younger than Tyler. He fathered Lyon Tyler when he was 63. Lyon’s second wife, Sue Ruffin, was also much younger than her husband. He was 75 when Harrison was born.

So, only three generations – President John Tyler, his son Lyon Tyler and his grandson Harrison Tyler – span nearly the entire U.S. history.

A Challenging Presidency

Tyler’s presidency was not without controversy. No president had died in office until Harrison. So, there were many questions regarding who should become the new president.

Tyler fought hard to be recognized as president. And soon he was. In the meantime, he was sometimes referred to as “the vice president acting as president.”

Some of those who disliked Tyler pinned him with the nickname, “His Accidency.” Not long after starting his term as president, his own Whig Party members turned against him.

Tyler became known as a strict constitutionalist who supported states’ rights. One of his best-remembered acts while in office was pushing for the annexation of Texas. His wish came true in 1845.

Tyler Fathers 15 Children

Tyler ran for president in the 1844 election, but lost to Democrat James. K Polk. He may not have been very popular with the American public, but apparently, his wives liked him

He fathered more children than any other president – 15 in total. Eight with his first wife and seven with his second wife.

And thanks to Lyon Tyler’s second wife being 35 years his junior, two of President Tyler’s grandsons are still around to talk about their legacy.

“I find it hard to believe,” said William Tyler, the president’s great grandson.

Family Home Lives On

William is proud of his heritage. In fact, he helps in the preservation efforts for his grandfather’s home.

Sherwood Forest Plantation has been the Tyler family home since 1842.

At over 300 feet long, it is the longest framed house in America. It was originally built around 1720 and is surrounded by 1,600 acres of land.

President Tyler’s addition to the house was a 68-foot ballroom. That’s where family members and guests engaged in the Virginia Reel, a popular dance at the time.

Here’s to hoping John Tyler’s grandsons and their families will be celebrating the legacy of our 10th president for many years to come.


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