Friday, May 04, 2007

May 4, 1820:

Julia Tyler's Birthday

At 24, Julia Gardiner of the prominent Long Island Gardiner family became the second wife of President John Tyler, who had been widowed in office. He thus became the first sitting president to marry, though not, as Grover Cleveland later did, with the ceremonies in the White House. Rather, the Tylers married at the Church of the Ascension in New York City in a ceremony presided over by the Right Reverend Benjamin Treadwell Onderdonk, fourth Episcopal Bishop of New York.

John Tyler was also the most fecund of presidents. By his first wife, Letitia, he had had eight children; by Julia, seven, the last of whom -- Pearl Tyler -- was born in 1860 just before her father died, and who lived until 1947. A few of John and Julia's grandchildren seem to have survived into the 1980s. has this to say about Julia Tyler, who made a surprisingly durable contribution to the ceremonies surrounding the presidency in the form of advocating the use of "Hail to the Chief."

"After the sadness of Letitia Tyler’s long illness and death, and the political turmoil of the Tyler administration, Julia Gardiner’s bursting on the Washington scene was both dramatic and colorful. She had youth, beauty, wit, charm and an obvious enjoyment of that she did, which disarmed the would-be critics. Unlike the hapless Mary Lincoln, Julia Tyler’s sometimes bumbling attempts at treading the political waters caused little comment. Her nepotism, however, was another matter. Her 'royalty touches' were ill-advised, but not motivated by malice or a real sense of snobbery... [and] her attempts to add to the dignity of the office were more lasting. Especially notable was her introduction of use of 'Hail to the Chief' to signal the entrance of the President. Her later years were filled with ups and downs, but her loyalty to John Tyler and all he stood for, never faltered or wavered."


Anonymous said...

Lion Gardiner, Julia Gardiner's ancestor, was one of the first English colonists in New York. He settled on what became Gardiner's Island, off the northwestern end of Long Island, in 1639. He bought the island from the indians and Charles I granted it to him as well as a proprietary colony, with Gardiner entitled to style himself Lord of the Manor. Gardiner's Island still belongs to one of the family after three and a half centuries.

Anonymous said...

Erratum: Second sentence of the previous comment, that should be "northeastern" or possibly "eastern" and not "northwestern."

Anonymous said...

Here's some real presidential trivia for you. According to the genealogy of John Tyler on the Website maintained by Sherwood Forest, President Tyler's home, his fifth child by Julia Gardiner, Lyon Gardiner Tyler, fathered a daughter, the second of six children, called Elizabeth Gilmer Tyler (1885-1976) who married "Captain Alfred Hart Miles." Capt. Miles, in turn, while a cadet at Annapolis early in the 20th Century, helped to compose "Anchors Aweigh."