Grandson of 10th President John Tyler, who took office in 1841, dies at 95
Both Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr.’s grandfather, father had children in their 70s yielding a strange historical anomaly.
A grandson of 10th U.S. president John Tyler, who left office 175 years ago,died at age 95 last month, a historical anomaly of a family whose three generations span three centuries from the nascent United States to 2020.
Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr., ofFranklin, Tennessee,diedSept. 26, according to an onlineobituary. His daughter, Susan Selina Pope Tyler, told theNew York Timeshe died of complications due toAlzheimer’s disease.
Tyler was bornJan.3, 1925, more than 130 years after his grandfather John Tyler was bornMarch 29, 1790.
Though Tyler never met his grandfather, who died in1862, he shared stories passed down throughhis family.
“My great grandmother, the president’s mother, said that when (John Tyler)was a year old, he reached up to the sky toward a full moon. She would say, ‘I think that boy is going to be president of the United States. He’s reaching for the sky,’” Tyler told a crowd in Williamson County in 2010, according to theWilliamson Herald.
After growing up inCharles City County, Virginia, outside Richmond,Tyler enrolled in the College of William and Mary when he was 16 years old, his obituary says. His father, the son of the president,served as the college’s 17th presidentfrom 1888 until 1919.
His time at the school was interrupted, however, by World War II, andTyler served as a naval officer in the Pacific, his obituary says. He returned and completed his degree in1947 then later earned a law degree fromUniversity of Virginia.
In the 1960s, Tyler was an assistant director on theVirginia Civil War Centennial Commission, “hoping to unite the country rather than further divide it,” his obituary says.
Tyler then pursued a career in history and teaching, earning adoctorate in history from Duke and later teaching at the Virginia Military Institute thenThe Citadel in South Carolina.
His grandfather, John Tyler, served as U.S. president from 1841 to 1845afterWilliam Henry Harrison died just weeks into his term as the ninth U.S. president.
Tyler had been added to the Whig Party ticket to sway Southern voters as a slave owner, according to theWhite House Historical Association.
His presidencyfaced criticism and controversy, however. Tyler vetoedbills his party and predecessor approved, including the creation of a central bank.
His contemporaries referred to himas“His Accidency,” a jeer in reference to him taking over shortly after Harrison’s inauguration and being the first vice president to assume office after a president’s death.
He also faced impeachment attempts. Those introducing impeachment accused Tyler of “the high crime and misdemeanor of endeavoring to excite a disorganizing and revolutionary spirit in the country,” Smithsonian Magazine notes
After leaving office, Tyler retreated to his Virginia plantation, according to theWhite House Historical Association. He reentered public life before the outbreak of the Civil Warwhen he served at the Peace Conference of 1861 but rejected the proposals. He was also elected to office in the Confederacy but died inJanuary 1862.
Afather of 15,John Tyler had children in two marriages as his first wife,Letitia, died while he was in office. His second wife, Julia, was the mother of theCollege of William and Mary president, Lyon Gardiner Tyler Sr.
Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr., although active in legal and historical studies, did not share the political ambitions of his grandfather. He said at the 2010 event:”Being a presidential descendent, even as a small boy, I didn’t want to hear anymore about it,” per theWilliamson Herald.
He added that he was once asked by a woman, “‘Little boy are you going to be president when you grow up?’ ‘No. I’ll bite your head off,’ I said. Then she asked me, ‘What would you do with the bones?’ and I told her, ‘I’ll spit ‘em out.’”
Tyler is survived by his daughter and brother,Harrison Ruffin Tyler, also in his 90s,President John Tyler’s last living grandchild.