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Letitia Christian Tyler

U.S. First Lady

Born: 12 November 1790
Died: 10 September 1842
Birthplace: New Kent County, Virginia
Best known as:

United States First Lady, 1841-1842

United States First Lady Letitia Christian Tyler was the first wife of John Tyler, and the first president's wife to die in the White House. The daughter of a wealthy Virginia plantation owner, she met Tyler in 1808 and married him in 1813. Her family inheritance and plantation management skills allowed her husband to turn his law career into a political career. While Letitia ran the plantation and took care of seven children, John served as U.S. congressman, governor of Virginia and U.S. senator on his way to becoming vice president to William Henry Harrison in 1841. Harrison died after a month in office and Tyler became the president in April of 1841. Letitia had suffered a stroke in 1839 and was semi-paralyzed when she moved into the White House as First Lady. Her daughter Letitia and daughter-in-law Priscilla (wife of Robert) fulfilled official hostess duties, and the only official public appearance by the first lady was at the wedding of her daughter Elizabeth in 1842. Seventeen months after her husband took office, Letitia died after another stroke.

Extra credit:

President Tyler married 24 year-old Julia Gardiner in June of 1844, and she served as First Lady for the last eight months of his term... Other first ladies who died while in the White House: First Lady Caroline Harrison, Benjamin Harrison's wife, died in 1892, and First Lady Ellen Wilson, the first wife of Woodrow Wilson, died in 1914.

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