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Letitia Christian Tyler was an American First Lady from 1841–1842. She was the first wife of the 10th president of the United States, John Tyler. Letitia Tyler was the youngest First Lady to pass away and one of only three First Ladies to have passed away in the White House.
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Key Facts & Information
- Letitia Christian was born on November 12, 1790 at the Cedar Grove plantation in New Kent County, Virginia.
- Letitia Christian was one of seven children of a planter, Robert Christian, and Mary Brown Christian.
- Letitia was considered a beautiful and gracious young woman but was an introverted type who preferred the company of family and select friends.
- Letitia had no formal education, but she learned all the skills to manage a plantation, rear a family, and preside over a home that would be John Tyler’s refuge during an active political life.
PERSONAL LIFE AND MARRIAGE
- Letitia’s first encounter with John Tyler was at a neighborhood party in 1808. This started a courtship that lasted for nearly five years.
- Their five-year courtship was restrained and the couple got wed on John’s 23rd birthday, March 29, 1813. It was said that she had allowed John to kiss her for the first time, on the hand, just three weeks before their wedding.
- In John’s only surviving love letter to her, written a few months before their wedding, he promised, “Whether I float or sink in the stream of fortune, you may be assured of this, that I shall never cease to love you.”
- Together, the couple had four daughters and three sons live to maturity.
- She devoted most of her time to her family and took little interest in the political career of her husband.
- Although most of the tasks of the large household were carried out by family slaves, Letitia managed all the financial matters and attended to her beloved garden.
- Letitia ran the state mansion, but a crippling stroke in 1839 confined her to a wheelchair and left her unable to perform her duties as First Lady when her husband became President in 1841.
- As First Lady, Letitia remained in the upstairs living quarters of the White House. She only came down once, to attend the wedding of her daughter, Elizabeth, in January 1842.
- Priscilla Cooper Tyler, her daughter-in-law, who had gained recognition as an actress before her marriage, served as official White House hostess. Priscilla quickly became popular for her receptions, formal dinners, and balls.
SEMPLE, LETITIA TYLER
- Letitia Tyler Semple (married James Semple in 1839; no children) was the fourth of nine children of John Tyler and Letitia Tyler.
- She served her father as the White House social hostess, the title later known as First Lady, after her mother’s death in 1842, and after her sister-in-law Priscilla moved away.
- John Tyler, her father, remarried in 1844.
- After her father’s remarriage, she was resentful of her stepmother Julia Gardiner Tyler and did not reconcile with her father for many years. Julia Gardiner Tyler was only one year her senior.
DEATH AND LEGACY
- At the age of 51, Letitia Tyler died peacefully on the evening of September 10, 1842, in the White House, from a stroke.
- Letitia became the first first lady to die in the White House.
- She was taken to Cedar Grove, Virginia, the plantation of her birth, for her burial.
- Tyler, Caroline Harrison (1892), and Ellen Wilson (1914), are the only First Ladies to have died in the White House.
- Priscilla Cooper Tyler remembered her mother-in-law as “the most entirely unselfish person you can imagine. Notwithstanding her very delicate health, mother attends to and regulates all the household affairs and all so quietly that you can’t tell when she does it”.
- Letitia Tyler appears on a 28p (£0.28) commemorative postage stamp from the Isle of Man Post Office that was issued May 23, 2006, as being part of a series honoring Manx-Americans.
- She additionally appears on a half-ounce gold coin including a bronze medal that was issued by the United States Mint on July 2, 2009.
Letitia Tyler Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Letitia Tyler across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Letitia Tyler worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Letitia Christian Tyler who was an American First Lady from 1841–1842. She was the first wife of the 10th president of the United States, John Tyler. Letitia Tyler was the youngest First Lady to pass away and one of only three First Ladies to have passed away in the White House.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Letitia Tyler Facts
- Letitia Tyler Quick Facts
- Letitia’s Biography
- Important Events
- The Tyler Life Story
- Letitia Tyler as First Lady
- The Tyler Ladies
- Deaths in White House
- Letitia in Numbers
- Symbolize Letitia
- First First Lady
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Use With Any Curriculum
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