Julia Gardiner Tyler
Julia Gardiner Tyler was the second wife of U.S. President John Tyler and served as First Lady for the last eight months of his term (1844-45). A vivacious New York actress whose father was a U.S. senator, Julia met Tyler in late 1842, shortly after the death of his first wife, Letitia. Although she first turned down President Tyler's pitch for marriage, the death of her father in 1844 made her change her mind. She and Tyler were married quietly in New York on 26 June 1844. The marriage excited Washington's high society, not the least because Julia was three decades younger than the president. In her short time at the White House Julia Tyler excelled as party hostess and was known for a nearly regal flamboyance. The president left office in 1845 and the Tylers retired to their home at Sherwood Forest, Virginia. Together they had seven children. John Tyler died in 1862, and during the Civil War pro-southern Julia lived in New York as a refugee, doing volunteer work for the Confederacy. After years of financial struggles, she won approval from the congress in 1880 for a pension of $1,200 per year (later increased to $5,000).