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Collection John Tyler Papers


A chronology of key events in the life of John Tyler (1790-1862) from his arrival in Washington to serve in Congress as a representative from Virginia (1816-1821) through his terms as Virginia governor (1825-1826), U.S. senator (1827-1836), and delegate and speaker (1839) of the Virginia House of Delegates.

  • 1816

    Arrived in Washington, D.C., as member of U.S. Congress, which met in the Old Brick Capitol due to the destruction of public buildings during the war. Witnessed the debate and leadership skills of John C. Calhoun, Daniel Webster, John Randolph, and Henry Clay. Became a Washington insider and guest at James and Dolley Madison’s soirees.

  • 1818-1819

    Conducted study of Second Bank of the U.S. in Philadelphia. Called for abolition of the bank and transfer of funds to state institutions.

  • 1820

    Opposed the Missouri Compromise. Argued that the spread of slavery was of benefit to the nation and its limitation unconstitutional, and that its concentration in the South would lead to sectional unrest.

  • 1820, Mar. 6

    President James Monroe signed the Missouri Compromise into law.

  • 1821, Jan. 15

    Resigned from U.S. House of Representatives for health, family, economic, and political opposition reasons.

  • 1823

    Elected, Virginia House of Delegates.

  • 1825

    Elected, Governor of Virginia.

    Henry Clay. Engraving, George Parker, c. 1830-1870. Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress. LC-USZ62-100626
  • 1826, Mar. 30

    Secretary of State Henry Clay challenged the eccentric Senator John Randolph to a duel. They exchanged shots on April 8 on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. Randolph’s reputation continued to decline, and Tyler privately promoted himself as a rising star to replace Randolph in the U.S. Senate for Virginia.

  • 1827, Jan. 13

    Defeated incumbent Senator John Randolph by five votes.

  • 1827

    In need of disposable income to support life in the U.S. Capitol, Tyler sells Ann Eliza, an enslaved house servant owned by the Tyler family.

  • 1827-1836

    U.S. senator from Virginia.

  • 1832

    Allied with the Andrew Jackson administration in opposing the re-chartering of the national bank. Supported Jackson’s veto. Supported compromise tariff measures in the Nullification Crisis, while disturbed by Jackson’s use of presidential power.

  • 1833

    Opposed President Andrew Jackson’s Force Bill. Re-elected to U.S. Senate by Virginia state legislature. Compromise tariff bill passed with Tyler’s support.

    Old Jack, the famous New Orleans mouser.  Lithograph, Michael Williams, c. 1832. American cartoon print filing series, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress.  LC-USZ62-55185
  • 1836

    Resigned from U.S. Senate and returned to Virginia. Joined the Whig Party. Became the preferred choice of many southern Whigs in the presidential race, within a divided Whig party. Martin Van Buren was elected president, while war veteran William Henry Harrison won seven states, including New Jersey, Ohio, and Indiana, and Tyler won four.

  • 1837

    Economic Panic of 1837.

  • 1838

    Reelected to Virginia House of Delegates as a Whig.

  • 1839

    Supported Henry Clay as candidate for the presidency at the Whig Party convention in Harrisburg, Penn., which nominated William Henry Harrison and balanced the ticket with Tyler as vice president, which led to the famed “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” presidential campaign.

    Westward the march of empire takes its flight.  Lithograph, Alfred E. Baker, c. 1840.  Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress.  LC-DIG-pga-00119
  • 1839

    Wife Letitia Tyler suffered debilitating stroke at age 49.

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