Tyler, who was born in Virginia in 1790, served as a U.S. congressman and as governor of his home state before winning election to the U.S. Senate. state during the 1830s. A Whig, Tyler became the 10th U.S. Vice President in March 1841. Within a month of his inauguration, President William Henry Harrison died in office and Tyler vaulted into the executive chair. The major achievement of his administration was the addition of Texas to the Union in 1845.
After his presidency ended in 1845, Tyler retired to his plantation, Sherwood Forest, in Virginia. His fellow Virginians called on the 70-year-old to head a Peace Convention in the winter of 1860-1861. This body tried to negotiate a compromise with the Republicans in the North in order to prevent a civil war. The attempt failed, as the Republicans were not willing to entertain any proposals that would protect slavery in the Western territories. Tyler was a delegate to the subsequent Secession Convention, and later became a member of the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States of America. He felt that victory was impossible for the Confederates but nonetheless suggested that Confederate cavalry be dispatched to capture Washington, D.C., before the Union military was in place.
Tyler was elected to the permanent Congress of the Confederate States of America but died before he could take his seat. He was survived by his second wife, Julia, and 11 of his 15 children. Tyler was buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.