Manus Hand

Visiting John Tyler's Grave

Here I am at John Tyler's gravesite in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. See President Monroe's sarcophagus behind me? President Tyler's grave is located at the ridge of the same hill where Monroe was re-interred.

At the time of his death, Tyler had been elected to the Confederate Senate -- in effect, he was a leader of a government in rebellion to that he led as Commander in Chief, and so his Richmond burial was in land that at least he considered non-U.S. territory (the only such President). The fact that the Union won the Civil War allowed Lincoln's point-of-view -- that the Southern states never actually seceded -- to prevail, so even the nationality of his burial plot was denied him in the end.

A far more important piece of information about Tyler concerns his behavior when he became the first man ever to be ushered into the Presidency by the death of his predecessor. Contemporaries in government called Tyler "His Accidency" and were insistent that he was only the "Acting President" and that his powers in that role were limited and subservient to the Congress. Although the Constitution did not explicitly say so, Tyler was adamant that he succeeded to the office, including its title, duties, and responsibilities, when President Harrison died. We owe to Tyler's determined (and embattled) stand on this point the fact that every later Vice President who found himself elevated to the highest office in the land has been able to use all the powers and privileges necessary to the function of that office.

Tyler also didn't sell his soul to politics; although he ran with Harrison, he felt no obligation to the fallen President's policies (a fact that made him a multitude of enemies and that only added to the number who disputed his claim to the powers of the Presidency).

If nothing else can be said of the President who ended his life as a rebel, he took a stand in every thing he did, and he stuck with it. (I remember that Harry Truman remarked that this was one thing he admired greatly about Tyler. I also remember that, throughout his entire life, Truman mistakenly believed that he was related to John Tyler.)

...White House Biography of President Tyler...
...Tyler's Sherwood Forest Home...
...Tyler's place in the Hall of Forgotten Presidents...