U.S. President Tyler’s special connection to Hampton U.

By Kiana Salley

HAMPTON, Virginia -- President's Day is much more than a national holiday to Hampton University. Specifically, John Tyler represents significant prestige to the Home by the Sea.

Any Hampton Pirate is familiar with East Tyler and West Tyler streets as being the main road onto the campus, however it isn't typical that all faculty and students understand the relevance of the roads. Tyler previously owned a piece of land called the Rip Raps not too far from the campus and where he resided after his presidency, according to a 1991 Daily Press account. This piece of land is where Tyler sought solace after the death of his first wife Letitia Semple. The Army Corps of Engineers helped build it while Robert E. Lee was stationed in Fort Monroe.

Otherwise known as "His Accidency" by detractors, according to whitehouse.gov, Tyler was the first vice-president to rise as president because of the unfortunate circumstance of the early death to former president-elect William Henry Harrison in 1841. Harrison served 31 days.

Virginia native Tyler was a College of William and Mary graduate, and was elected into the Virginia House of Delegates at the age of 21. His family is of no strangers to the Williamsburg and Hampton Roads area. In fact, they are highly recognized for their service to both communities as well as the state of Virginia.

Former President Tyler served as the 18th governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia and as U.S Senator from Virginia. While president Tyler was most recognized for his annexation of Texas in 1845 to revolt against slavery.

His son, Lyon G. Tyler, presided over the first Virginia public university that allowed women to matriculate in the educational system. Lyon Tyler also counseled Hampton and Richmond Mechanic institutes.

A family man first and a one-term president, the 10th president continued his legacy: Two of his grandsons live to this day, reported U.S. News & World Report this month. John Tyler fathered 15 children, two of which are Lyon and Harrison Tyler, born in 1924 and 1928.

Destin McMurray contributed to this report. Both students are in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

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