|Richmond, VA||July 13, 2005|
On June 26, 1844, Julia Gardiner — age 24 — married 54-year-old John Tyler, the sitting president of the United States. The new Mrs. Tyler spent the next eight months as first lady — the youngest presidential spouse to do so until Frances Cleveland in 1886. John Tyler died in 1862, and Julia Tyler followed him in 1889. They are buried together in the Presidents Circle section of Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, same as fellow former White House occupants Elizabeth and James Monroe.
The 17-foot-tall Tyler monument was placed in June 1915 and dedicated the following October. A bust of the president sculpted by Raymond Averill Porter is mounted to it and gazes east toward the James River. Julia Tyler is eulogized on the shaft’s western face.
Unlike John Tyler, Julia Tyler does not have a bronze likeness of her face incorporated into the gravesite. The backside’s inscription, which remarks Julia is interred under the monument with the president, also mentions John’s first marriage — noting that Mrs. Letitia Tyler is buried at the former Cedar Grove plantation in New Kent County.
The northern and southern sides of the Tyler monument are adorned with carvings of allegories. On the north is Memory, while the figure on the south side, shown here, represents the republic. The woman’s shield bears the seal of the United States at its top and the seal of Virginia at its bottom. Though born and raised in New York, Julia’s allegiance during the Civil War was to Virginia and the Confederacy. John Tyler was elected to serve in the CSA’s House of Representatives, and even after his death Julia Tyler volunteered for the Confederate cause.
Born: May 4 (or July 29), 1820 in East Hampton, New York
Spouse: John Tyler (m. 1844-1862)
First Lady Tenure: 1844-1845
Died: July 10, 1889 in Richmond, Virginia
Cause of Death: Stroke
Age: 68 or 69
Interment: Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia
Sources Consulted and Further Reading
Smithsonian Institution. “John Tyler Memorial, (sculpture).” Accessed April 3, 2022. https://www.si.edu/object/siris_ari_14719.