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Letitia Christian Tyler

Note: There were two Mrs. Tyler's who served as first lady. John Tyler was president from 1841-1843, His first wife died in 1842. Tyler remarried in 1844 to Julia Tyler.
Letitia was born on November 12, 1790 on her parents' plantation near Richmond, Virginia.

On the plantation she learned to run a large household.

She was very shy and religious.

She and John were engaged for five years. John told his friends that he didn't even kiss her hand until a few weeks before they were married.

On March 29, 1813 she and John Tyler were married. She was 22. It was John's birthday and he turned 23 that day.

Letitia's father wasn't sure about the marriage. Most likely because Tyler was rich with land but poor when it came to income.

Mrs Tyler avoided the public life. She only went to Washington once when John was a Senator.

Letitia and John had 8 children together.

In 1838 Letitia had a stroke and was paralyzed. After her stroke she was confined to a wheel chair.

When John Tyler became president in 1841, Mrs. Tyler moved to Washington.

There daughter Elizabeth Tyler was the second daughter of a president to be married in the White House. Letitia did attend the wedding. One of the few White House events he participated in due to her illness.

She lived on the second floor of the White House and only came down for one social occasion. She attended her daughter's wedding to William Waller in 1842.

Most duties of the First Lady were carried out by her daughter-in-law , Priscilla Cooper Tyler.

During the first 8 months of Tyler presidency she planned and executed a reception every night of the week. After that it was scaled back to two formal dinners a month.

Letitia did have visitors and did keep up with the news by reading newspapers.

Tyler always consulted his wife during times of trouble or difficulties.

She died on September 10, 1842 in Washington D.C. She was 51.

Letitia was the first First Lady to die in the White House while her husband was president.




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Sources of Information:

Barden, Cindy,Meet the First Ladies, Lorenz Corp.
Gormley, Beatrice,First Ladies: Women Who Called The White House Home (First Ladies) , Scholastic Paperbacks, 1997
Smith, Carter, Editor,Smithsonian Presidents and First Ladies DK Publishing, New York, 2002

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This page was last updated: February 6, 2013