Even keen history buffs may not immediately recognize the name John Tyler. In fact, though, he was the 10th president of America, serving as he did from 1841 to 1845. And as we shall see, his presidential term included some notable firsts. What’s more, he also has an astonishing connection with two people who are alive today.
Tyler was born in 1790, on the Greenway Plantation in Charles City County, Virginia. His family were wealthy, and they trace their roots back to colonial times in 17th century Williamsburg. In fact, his father, John Tyler Senior, was a friend of Thomas Jefferson and was, moreover, a prosperous planter. Tyler Sr. was also a judge and a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, and in 1808 he became the Governor of Virginia – a position that he held until his death in 1811. Tyler’s mother, Mary, meanwhile, died suddenly when he was just seven years old.
But what of the young Tyler? Well, he was a slim and somewhat sickly youth prone to diarrhea – a malady that apparently plagued him for the rest of his life. Tyler was, though, very gifted academically. Indeed, at the age of 17 he graduated from the prestigious College of William and Mary, and two years later he joined the Virginia bar.