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Today 1844: President Tyler Wins Bride While Surviving Disaster Aboard Navy Ship

Guys, if you want to know how to sweep a girl off her feet, take a lesson from the 10th President of the United States, John Tyler. However, before I divulge his secret, allow me to share more about Tyler, perhaps one of the lesser known presidents.

Born on March 29, 1790, at Greenway, the Tyler family plantation. John received an excellent education, graduating from the College of William and Mary in Virginia at the age of 17 and passed the bar at 19. With his father serving as Governor of Virginia, young 21-year-old John Tyler got himself elected to the Virginia legislature where he served until 1821. In 1825 he was elected Governor of Virginia, but only served one 2-year term. In 1827, he was elected to the US Senate where he served as President pro-tempore in 1835.

In 1835, Tyler was chosen to be William Henry Harrison’s running mate on the Whig ticket for the presidency, leading to the famous campaign slogan ‘Tippecanoe and Tyler too’. Harrison and Tyler won the election and were sworn into office on March 4, 1841. One month later on April 4, Harrison died of pneumonia. John Tyler became the first Vice President to assume the presidency upon the death of a president.

Due to the way he obtained the office, Tyler was commonly referred to ‘His Accidency’ or the ‘Accidental President.’ No one, even those in the Whig Party took Tyler seriously, until he vetoed two bills that the Whigs wanted to revive the Bank of the United States and a tariff bill. The action caused the Whigs to expel Tyler from the party, leaving him a president without any political party. Tyler may have looked like a thin frail man but he proved to be a tough and strong politician. Among his accomplishments, he annexed Texas and signed the bill to make Texas a state on March 1, 1845.

John Tyler married Letitia Christian in 1813 when he was 23 years of age. They had 8 children when Letitia suffered a stroke in 1839 that left her partially paralyzed. When Tyler became president in 1841, Letitia was unable to serve as the official White House hostess, so Priscilla Cooper Tyler, daughter-in-law to the president, assumed the role. A year later in 1851, Letitia suffered a second stroke and died.

By the end of 1843, Tyler had his eye set on Julia Gardiner, the 20-year-old daughter of a wealthy New Yorker. On February 28, 1844, President Tyler, Julia Gardiner and her family and 400 others, including a number of Cabinet members and dignitaries were on board the USS Princeton. This was the Navy’s new steam frigate that was manned with a new 12 inch, 27,000 cannon that was named the Peacemaker.

John Ericsson, a co-designer of the Peacemaker had advertised the power of the new gun in an effort to get support among Congress. The Princeton was cruising on the Potomac when Captain Robert Stockton insisted on demonstrating the gun’s power. Ericsson argued the gun had not been sufficiently tested, but Stockton prevailed. The first two volleys fired were impressive and the crowd on the ship wildly applauded.

Tyler and others went below deck where the president toasted the new guns and the new ship. Newly appointed Secretary of War William Wilkins requested a third volley to commemorate the toast and event be fired in the direction of Mount Vernon in honor of George Washington. Over Ericsson’s objections, Wilkins insisted.

Tyler was heading back up the ladder when the third volley was fired with disastrous results. The Peacemaker exploded. Julia’s father, David Gardiner and two of Tyler’s cabinet members were killed. Julia fainted at the news of her father’s death. As soon as the Princeton docked, Tyler took Julia in his arms and whisked her away from the ship. Four months later on June 26, 1944, President John Tyler and Julia Gardiner were married and she assumed the role of First Lady. Together they had seven children, which added to the 8 from his first marriage, and made Tyler the most prolific president ever with 15 children.

So guys, if you want to whisk the girl of your dreams off her feet and make her yours forever, all you have to do is save her from a dangerous situation, showing her how much you care and how safe she’ll be in your arms. If you succeed, you can attribute it to President John Tyler and a big gun exploding on a naval vessel on this day, February 28, 1844.

Sources for the above include: Tyler narrowly escapes death on the USS Princeton; JOHN TYLER; THE ACCIDENT ON BOARD THE U. S. S. “PRINCETON”, FEBRUARY 28, 1844: A CONTEMPORARY NEWS-LETTER; From peacemaker to widowmaker: Remembering the USS Princeton disaster; The “Princeton” and the “Peacemaker”: A Study in Nineteenth-Century Naval Research and Development Procedures; US Navy: USS Princeton (1843); Fatal Cruise of the Princeton; 5 Things You Didn’t Know About John Tyler; John Tyler; John Tyler Biography.

Dave Jolly

R.L. David Jolly holds a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and an M.S. in Biology – Population Genetics. He has worked in a number of fields, giving him a broad perspective on life, business, economics and politics. He is a very conservative Christian, husband, father and grandfather who cares deeply for his Savior, family and the future of our troubled nation.

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