1789 to Pre-Civil War

John Adams

Daniel Tompkins

George Dallas

Thomas Jefferson

John C. Calhoun

Millard Fillmore

Aaron Burr

Martin Van Buren

William R. King

George Clinton

Richard M. Johnson

John C. Breckinridge

Elbridge Gerry

John Tyler


John Adams
1st Vice President

George Washington’s vice president

Served:  April 30, 1789 to March 3, 1797 
Born: October 5, 1829 in Quincy, Massachusetts
Died: July 4, 1826 in Quincy, Massachusetts
Buried: United First Parish Church in Quincy, Massachusetts

JAdams.jpg           In the summer of 2004, my wife Debbie and I took a trip through eastern Massachusetts visiting historical sites. One place we went to was Quincy. We took a tour of Adams' house. We saw the house he was born in and grew up in, but didn't get a chance to tour them. We also went back to the United First Parish Church and visited the Adam's again.

JAdams_grave1.jpg            I have had a fascination for John Adams, ever since I saw the movie, "1776". Adams seemed like such an interesting person. Despite this, Adams is not as well known as other Revolutionary War leaders. The man to follow George Washington into the presidency would have a lot to live up to. Washington was a tough act to follow. John Adams was overshadowed by his predecessor (Washington) and his successor (Jefferson). The first won the American Revolution and the second wrote the Declaration of Independence. This is a shame, because John Adams did as much, if not more, than anyone else in helping us secure our Independence. Somehow, John is overlooked. There are no memorials or statues to him, unlike the other two. Eight states in the country have named counties after John Adams. This may seem like a lot until you put it into perspective. Washington has 31 counties and Jefferson has 26! Stephen Douglas, who lost the debates to Lincoln has more with 9 counties. His home state of Massachusetts named a county after Ben Franklin, but not Adams. Would you believe in all of Boston, there is not one statue in honor of Adams. There is one for Sam Adams, Ben Franklin, Paul Revere, John F. Kennedy, Josiah Quincy and even General Joe Hooker (a Civil War general who lost the only battle he was in charge of). Nothing for John Adams.

            It was Adam's drive and perseverance, aided by bull-headed stubbornness, which pushed through the idea of independence. However, this is often overlooked. Adams never thought he would be remembered, though it is not known if he actually believed that or not. All my not be hopeless, I have heard they are planning a memorial for John Adams, and his son John Quincy, to be built in Washington D.C. Let us hope so.

J_Adams_grave2.jpg            I went to visit the Adam's, both father and son, during a trip to Boston in 1999. I took some students to see a Red Sox game. We, of course, saw many of the historical sites around Boston too (didn't see any statues for John). On the way home, I took a detour off I93 into Quincy. I followed the signs to the United First Parish Church. It was on a large avenue called Hancock Street (even John Hancock gets some recognition), easy enough to find. The students, with one exception, waited in the car listening to the radio while the two of us went inside. It was late in the day. The church was being renovated on the inside. One of the people who oversee the church gave us a personal tour which included taking us down into the crypt to the tombs.

            You go down a narrow stone staircase to the right of the main entrance. This brings you into a narrow corridor which runs the width of the church. As you walk down the corridor, there is an entrance on the left that leads you into the room. There is a marble plaque outside of the entrance put up by the Daughters of the American Revolution. There are four granite sarcophaguses lined up side by side. On the far left is John Adams. Next to him is his wife Abigail. His son, John Quincy is next and at the far right is his wife Louisa. Both presidents had flags draped over their tombs. Adams flag has only 15 stars in it, just like when he was president.

            Adams spent two terms as Washington's vice-president. A Federalist, he became president by narrowly beating out Thomas Jefferson. By a strange quirk in our electoral system, Jefferson became his vice-president. Adams did not enjoy the success that Washington had. This is because there was only one Washington. He tried to stay above, or at least between, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Adams did gain some popularity during the XYZ Affair, but lost it when he supported the Alien and Sedition Acts. One of things about Adams that struck me the most is how much he loved his wife Abigail. When he was in Congress in Philadelphia, they wrote to each other constantly.

            Adams ran for re-election in 1800, but lost to Jefferson. The friendship between the two became severely strained. He was however, the first president to live in the White House when it was finished in 1800, if for only four months. He was so upset at losing he refused to be part of the Inaugural ceremonies on March 4, but instead left for home. Adams was one of only three presidents not to attend the inauguration of his successor. He would live for another 25 years on his farm in Quincy. He rekindled his friendship with Jefferson through letters. Adams was in his 90's when the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence was approaching. He, along with Jefferson and Charles Carroll, were the only signers still living. He was invited to join in the celebrations, but since he wasn't feeling well, he declined. On the 50th Anniversary, July 4th, 1826, Adams lay dying in bed. Late in the afternoon, his last words before he died were "Jefferson still survives". This wasn't true, Jefferson died earlier in the afternoon. Until very recently, Adams lived longer than any other president (Ronald Reagan just passed him by).

             The next time we were in the Boston area, visited the John Adams' House. It was very interesting. If anyone is interested in reading an excellent biography on John Adams, pick up David McCullough's book; John Adams.


Adams National Historical Park 
White House Biography of John Adams 
The Internet Public Library Biography 
The American President Biography



Thomas Jefferson
2nd Vice President

John Adams's vice president

Served:  March 4, 1789 to March 3, 1797 
Born: April 13, 1743 in Shadwell, Virginia
Died: July 4, 1826 in Monticello, Virginia
Buried: Monticello Estate in Charlottesville, Virginia

Jefferson.jpg            My wife, Debbie, and I took a trip to Williamsburg, Virginia back in 1998 before we were married. we had a great time. Williamsburg is an excellent place to visit for the historical significance it has. It was the first capitol of the Colony of Virginia before it was moved to Richmond. It is the site of William and Mary University. It is near historic Jamestown (the first permanent colony in America) and Yorktown (where General Cornwallis surrendered to end the American Revolution). Of course, August is not a great time of the year to visit Virginia. The weather was hot (around 95 every day) and very humid. All of the buildings are air-conditioned, so you can get rests from the heat when you need them. During our vacation, Hurricane Bonnie came up the East coast, and stalled over Eastern Virginia.

            Not to waste a day sitting in our hotel room while the hurricane raged outside, we decided to drive inland to Monticello. We took I64 through Richmond to Charlottesville. It took us a little over two hours. Keep in mind, we were driving out of the hurricane. Charlottesville is a very pleasant city. We walked around the pedestrian mall and had lunch in an outdoor cafe. After lunch, we drove out of the city toward Monticello. We first stopped in the Visitor Center for some background information and souvenirs. Then we drove up the mountain toward his home. We parked in the lot and walked the rest of the way. There was a wait in line to get in.

            His home is phenomenal. Jefferson was a very inventive man with everything he did. His home is proof of it. You enter through the main door into the Entrance Hall where there is a large clock that he designed. You move from room to room, from his library to a greenhouse to his office to his bedroom. The most interesting thing here is that his bed is in the wall between his office and his bedroom. So when he wakes up he can go into either room. The back of the house has the parlor, which opens up into the back porch. You continue through the dining room and tea room.

Jefferson_grave.jpg            After touring his house, we toured the grounds. Monticello was a working plantation when Jefferson lived there. They still plant fruits, vegetables are flowers in the original places. We continued our walk back to the cemetery where Jefferson is buried. It is a large area that is fenced off. Jefferson, and his wife Martha, are off to the right as you approach it from the house. Jefferson, with a boyhood friend and future brother-in-law, had picked out the spot himself. They made a pact that the survivor of the two would bury the other beneath a large oak tree below the summit of the mountain. Jefferson's friend, Dabney Carr, was buried there first. On Jefferson's obelisk are three accomplishments he wanted inscribed there. Mentioned are the Declaration of Independence, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and the founding of the University of Virginia. No mention of being president or vice-president is on the stone.












BORN APRIL 2, 1743 O.S.

DIED JULY 4. 1826

            Jefferson was born in 1743, the third of ten children, at the family home in Shadwell in Goochland County (now part of Albemarle County), during the reign of King George II. His father Peter Jefferson was a successful planter and surveyor and his mother Jane Randolph a member of one of Virginia's most distinguished families. At age 16, he entered the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg and met the law professor George Wythe who became his influential mentor. He graduated in 1762, completing his studies in only two years. He then worked as a law clerk for Wythe in Williamsburg. During these years in Williamsburg, Jefferson read the writing of people like John Locke. Beside practicing law, Jefferson represented Albemarle County in the Virginia House of Burgesses beginning from 1769 to June of 1775. Following the passage of the Intolerable Acts by the British Parliament in 1774, Jefferson wrote a set of resolutions against the acts. These were later expanded into A Summary View of the Rights of British America, in which he expressed his belief that people had the right to govern themselves.

            Having inherited a considerable amount of land from his father, Jefferson began building Monticello when he was twenty-six years old. Three years later on News Year Day in 1772, he married 23-year-old widow Martha Wayles Skelton, with whom he lived happily for ten years until her death. Jefferson played the violin and Martha was an accomplished piano player. Their marriage produced six children, but only two (Martha and Mary) survived to adulthood.

            Jefferson’s views on the institution of slavery and African slaves are complex. He opposed slavery yet was an owner of slaves. He inherited slaves from both his father and father-in-law. In a typical year, he owned about 200, almost half of them under the age of sixteen. About eighty of these lived at Monticello; the others lived on other land he owned. Jefferson freed two slaves in his lifetime and five in his will and chose not to pursue two others who ran away. All were members of the Hemings family; the seven he eventually freed were skilled tradesmen. He always claimed he wanted to free his slaves but his personal debts prevented it.

Monticello.jpg            In June of 1775, while a member of the House of Burgesses, Jefferson was chosen to represent Virginia in the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. While there, he made friends with the more radical members of the congress like John Adams. When Congress began considering a resolution of independence in June of 1776, Jefferson was appointed to the five-man committee, that included Adams and Benjamin Franklin, to write a declaration in support of the resolution. Adams got the other members to have Jefferson write the declaration. It took him 17 days to write it. The other members made some changes. Franklin changed "We hold these truths to be sacred and un-deniable... to "We hold these truths to be self-evident." The final draft was presented to the Congress on June 28. On July 2, Congress adopted a resolution on independence and then spent three days debating Jefferson’s document. Congress made changes and deleted nearly a fourth of the text, most notably a passage critical of the slave trade. Jefferson was not happy about it but remained quiet. On July 4, 1776, the Congress ratified the Declaration of Independence.

              Jefferson left the Congress after this and returned to Virginia. In 1779, he was elected governor of Virginia and led the state through the Revolution. As governor, he moved the state capital from Williamsburg to Richmond to keep it further from the British Army. In 1781, during British general Charles Cornwallis march north towards Virginia, a cavalry force led by Banastre Tarleton almost captured Governor Jefferson at Monticello. Jefferson, warned at the last minute, managed to escape west. He suffered an inquiry into his conduct during this last year in office that, although finally fully repudiated, left him with a life-long adverse reaction in the face of criticism.

             On September 6, 1782, his wife Martha, who may have suffered from diabetes, died. Jefferson took her death very hard. He did not remarry and remained a widower for the rest of his life. Later, when Jefferson was serving in Paris, it is reported that he began a relationship with one of his female slaves, Sally Hemings (Jefferson’s father-in-law John Wayles was also Sally’s father making her Martha’s half-sister.) DNA testing have confirmed that Jefferson was the father of Sally’s children.

Jefferson_Memorial.jpg             During the brief private interval in his life following his governorship, Jefferson wrote Notes on the State of Virginia. In 1784, he entered public service again, in France, first as trade commissioner and then as Benjamin Franklin's successor as minister. During this period, he avidly studied European culture, sending home to Monticello, books, seeds and plants, statues and architectural drawings, scientific instruments and information.

            In 1783, a new United States Constitution created a new government. George Washington, hero of the Revolution, became the first president. Washington asked Jefferson to be his Secretary of State and a member of his four-man cabinet. Jefferson had a vision for the country that was pro-agrarian and against banks and monetary interest. This ran contrary to Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton plan for the country. Jefferson and Hamilton’s different visions became the basis for a two-party political system. Jefferson and his followers became known as Democratic-Republicans who opposed Hamilton and his Federalist supporters. The two fought over almost every major issue that occurred during Washington’s Administration. The biggest division came over who the country should support in the war between Great Britain and France. Jefferson, who supported the French Revolution, as an extension of the American one, wanted the country to support France who had supported America during the Revolution. Washington and Hamilton were more pragmatic and saw the problems the British Navy could have on American shipping Jefferson_Memorial2.jpgsupported Great Britain. 

             After Washington decided not to run for a third term in 1796, the country faced its first contested presidential election. Washington’s vice president and Federalist supporter John Adams ran for president. Jefferson decided to oppose him. At the time, presidential elections were decided in the electoral college not by popular vote. Jefferson, who had the support of most of the southern states, lost a close election to Adams (71 to 68 electoral votes). Technically, since Jefferson came in second, he became vice president (the Constitution would be changed so this didn’t happen again.) Hamilton remained as Secretary of the Treasury so the political feud between Hamilton and Jefferson continued. Adams, who was opposed by Jefferson and disliked by Hamilton, was caught in the middle. When the Federalist controlled Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Act in 1797, Jefferson and his friend James Madison wrote the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions advocating the concept of nullification – that is a state nullifying and federal law they thought was unconstitutional.

             In 1800, Jefferson again ran against Adams. Again he was supported with the southern states, whose electoral votes were enhanced due to their slave population due to the Three-Fifths Compromise in the Constitution, and defeated Adams 73 to 65 electoral votes. Despite defeating Adams, he had to endure another election since Aaron Burr, who was the Democratic-Republican choice for vice president ended with 73 electoral votes also. This sent the election into the House of Representatives where Jefferson ultimately prevailed – ironically with the help of Hamilton.

Jefferson_Memorial3.jpg             Perhaps the most notable, and controversial, achievements of his first term was the purchase of the Louisiana Territory in 1803. It doubled the size of the country but Jefferson, who was a strict constructionist, was troubled by the fact that the Constitution did not give the president the authority to make the purchase. He later sent the Lewis and Clark expedition to explore the land. In June of 1804, Jefferson’s political opponent Alexander Hamilton was killed in a duel in Weehawken, New Jersey by his former vice president Aaron Burr. With one shot, Jefferson was rid of two political enemies.

            In 1804, Jefferson successfully ran for re-election against Federalist Charles C. Pinckney carrying 15 of the 17 states. Jefferson would suffer what historians would call second-term let-down – which would plague future presidents. Jefferson encouraged passage of the Embargo Act in 1807 to maintain American neutrality in the Napoleonic Wars. It caused major economic problems in the country and in the end did not avoid war as the country would eventually be involved in the War of 1812. The Embargo made Jefferson very unpopular and he was happy when his term came to an end in 1809 and he could return to Monticello. Before leaving, he helped his friend James Madison secede him as president.

             Jefferson spent the last seventeen years of his life at Monticello. Despite being a genius with words, architecture, engineering, botany, etc., he was not good financially. He went into debt a number of times. Jefferson even had to sell his personal book collection to the Library of Congress (to replace the books that were destroyed when the British burned the Capitol Building during the War of 1812.) Jefferson embarked on his last great public service at the age of 76, with the founding of the University of Virginia. He spearheaded the legislative campaign for its charter, secured its location, designed its buildings, planned its curriculum, and served as the first rector. In his last years, he renewed his friendship with John Adams, exchanging letters.

            In July of 1825 his health started to deteriorate. He suffered from a combination of various illnesses and conditions probably including toxemia, uremia and pneumonia. As the 50th Anniversary of the approval of the Declaration of Independence approached, it was hoped that he would be able to attend the celebrations in Washington D.C. Jefferson, along with Adams and Charles Carroll, were the only signers still living. Jefferson was 83 years old and not feeling well and was forced to decline the invitation. He was determined to hang on until the 4th of July. At a little before one in the afternoon, on July 4, 1826, he died in his bedroom at Monticello. John Adams would follow him six hours later. Jefferson's funeral was held July 5 and was a simple and quiet affair, by his own request. No invitations were sent, but some friends and visitors came to the ceremony and burial. He is buried on the grounds of Monticello next to his wife, Martha.


            Jefferson has been portrayed in a number of movies. Ken Howard portrayed him in one of my favorite, if somewhat inaccurate, movies 1776. Among his other portrayals are; Montaguu Love (Alexander Hamilton in 1931), Nick Nolte (Jefferson in Paris in 1995), Sam Neill (Sally Hemings: An American Scandal in 2000), Sam Waterson (Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery in 1997 and Thomas Jefferson in 1997) and Stephen Dillane (the 2008 HBO mini-series “John Adams”). He even has appeared in episodes of South Park and The Simpsons.

            We returned to Monticello in August of 2003.  My wife Debbie, our nephew Damian and I spent a weekend in Lexington, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley. On our way home, we stopped at Monticello and toured the mansion again. This was Damian's first time here. After visiting with Tom at the cemetery, we drove on to Montpelier and visited James Madison. We also visited the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C. back in 1996.

White House Biography of Thomas Jefferson
The Internet Public Library Biography 
The American President Biography
Jefferson's rough draft of the Declaration of Independence 
Thomas Jefferson's Academic Village at the University of Virginia
Thomas Jefferson Memorial (NPS) 
Mount Rushmore
Colonial Williamsburg



Aaron Burr
3rd Vice President

Thomas Jefferson's 1st vice president

Served:  March 4, 1801 to March 4, 1805 
Born: February 6, 1756 in Newark, New Jersey
Died: September 14, 1836 in Staten Island, New York
Buried: Princeton Cemetery – Princeton, New Jersey

Burr.jpg            My wife and I found Burr in Princeton Cemetery on a warm summer afternoon we were spending in Princeton. He is in the same cemetery as President Grover Cleveland and Declaration signer Jonathan Witherspoon.

            Aaron Burr was one of the most maligned and mistrusted public figures of his era and, without question, the most controversial vice president in our history. His father was a Presbyterian pastor and president of Princeton College, but died before Burr was two years old. His mother died shortly after that. He was an orphan at age two. Burr graduated from Princeton in 1772 wanting to be a lawyer. The Revolutionary War would interrupt this. Burr joined the army and fought outside Quebec in 1775 and was commended on his bravery. He rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, but somehow was not liked by General Washington. 

Burr_grave.jpg           After the war, he married Theodosia Bartow Prevost, the widow of a British officer and moved to New York City. They had a daughter Theodosia. Burr's wife died in 1794. He practiced law and entered politics, becoming Attorney General for New York in 1789. Burr was elected to the U. S. Senate in 1791, unseating Senator Philip Schuyler and making a lifelong enemy of Schuyler's son-in-law, Alexander Hamilton. As senator, he spoke out against many Federalist policies in Washington's and Adams' administration. 

            In the Election of 1800, Burr was the vice president on the Democratic-Republican's ticket, headed by Thomas Jefferson. Their opponent was incumbent president John Adams. The election was especially ugly as both sides looked to discredit the other. However, it was after the election that the real fun began.

            Elections were different in 1800 than they are Today. The Electors would cast two ballots, the man with the most votes would be president and the second with be vice president. Before voting, one Elector was to cast his ballot for someone beside the chosen vice president so he would come in second. Somehow, the Democratic-Republicans did not select anyone to cast this vote. Consequently, Jefferson and Burr tied for the most electoral votes with 73 each. Since Burr was his party’s selection for vice president, he should have stepped aside. According to the Constitution, if the election is tied, it goes to the House of Representatives with each state getting one vote. The representatives from each state would poll their delegations to determine how their state would vote. Federalist in the House of Representatives hoped to disrupt Jefferson's victory by voting for Burr. Hamilton, not thinking very highly of Burr, supported Jefferson (another man who he disliked). Needing a majority of the 16 sates, it would take 36 ballots in over a week before Jefferson won the election. After this, he would not be trusted by Jefferson or the Democratic Republicans.

            Not surprisingly, Burr was not re-nominated by his party in the Election of 1804. So he decided to run for New York Governor. He lost badly. He blamed Hamilton, who referred to Burr as, "a dangerous man, and who ought not to be trusted." Burr, who was still vice president,  challenged Hamilton to a duel. On July 11, 1804 on a cliff in Weehawken, New Jersey, Burr mortally wounded Hamilton. Even though it was illegal, dueling was socially accepted. However, Burr was heavily criticized for it. He was indicted for murder in New York and New Jersey but never stood trial for it. Burr returned to Washington D.C. to continue to preside of the Senate.

            He left the vice presidency in 1805, heavily in debt. Burr entered in a strange plot with Louisiana Governor James Wilkinson. Burr was going to lead an attack against Mexico hoping to get many Western States to leave the Union and make a southeastern confederacy under his leadership. Before it began, Wilkinson betrayed Burr, who was arrested on the charge of treason. He was tried for treason in Richmond, Virginia in 1807. Chief Justice John Marshall presided over the trial and was responsible for Burr's acquittal. After the trial, Burr left for Europe.

            Burr returned to New York five years later. In 1813, his daughter, Theodosia, was lost at sea. Burr never overcame the loss of his beloved daughter. He remarried in 1833 to a wealthy widow, but she soon found out he was squandering her money and sued for divorce. Burr was incapacitated by a series of strokes, eventually dying on Staten Island. Burr was buried with full military honors.

            British actor Holmes Herbert portrayed Aaron Burr in the 1937 film The Man Without a Country (the film has actor John Litel’s character planing on joining Burr during the supposed treason.)




George Clinton
4th Vice President

Thomas Jefferson's 2nd vice president
James Madison's 1st vice president
Served:  March 4, 1805 to April 20, 1812
Born: July 26, 1739 in Ulster County, New York
Died: April 20, 1812 in New York City, New York
Buried: in Kingston, New York

Clinton.jpg            I picked up George Clinton's picture on a trip to a Can/Am Hockey Tournament in Lake Placid in April of 2002 with the Bayonne Rangers pee-wee team I coached. My wife, Debbie, along with two nephews, Damian and Daniel (who are in the picture - Damian is on the left and Daniel is on the right) were playing in hockey tournament. We stopped in Kingston for the photo and a cup of coffee at the local Dunkin Donuts. It was very easy to find the church, all we had to do was head to the tall white steeple which can be seen for miles around. After the photo, and the coffee, we got back on the New York Thruway and headed north towards the Adirondacks.         

            When Clinton took office in 1805, he was replacing Aaron Burr (who was 17 years younger than him), Jefferson's first vice president, whose perceived disloyalty had almost cost Jefferson the presidency. Strangely enough, Clinton was an Anti federalist who opposed the ratification of the Constitution, especially the establishment of the Office of the Vice President. He became the first of two vice presidents to serve two different presidents (the other being Calhoun) and Clinton_grave.jpgthe first vice president to die in office.

            Being born in upstate New York, Clinton fought in the French and Indian War in 1757 at the age of 18. After the war, he became a lawyer and entered politics. He married Cornelia Tappan, who was related to the Livingston's (one of the richest families in New York). He became a patriot in the years before the American Revolution. He was elected to the Second Continental Congress. He disliked it, and he soon resigned to accept an appointment as a brigadier general in the New York militia. He was elected the First Governor of New York in 1777, but was shortly back on the battlefield when he led forces to stop British General Clinton for marching north to help General Burgoyne (who ultimately surrendered at the Battle of Saratoga). 

            He continued to serve as Governor of New York until 1795. He served again from 1801 to 1804. His 21 years as governor make him the longest serving chief executive in New York State's history. He was an Anti-Federalist who opposed the Constitution, but he realized that its ratification was inevitable. When the new government was established in 1787, Clinton wanted to be the first vice president. These early elections are different than Today. There were no presidential tickets. Presidential Electors simply voted for someone to be president and someone to be vice president. Federalist, like Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, were horrified that an Anti-Federalist might be the vice president. They successfully pushed for John Adams who received 34 of the 69 votes (Clinton received 3 votes).

            Clinton tried again in 1792, and his chances were better. Hamilton and Madison were not happy with the abrasive John Adams as vice president and wanted someone new. Adams received 77 electoral votes, but Clinton did well, coming in second with 50 votes. Clinton, suffering from poor health, retired as governor in 1795. He decided not to run as Jefferson's vice president in 1796 (they changed the format in 1796). Jefferson lost the election, but since he had the second highest amount of votes, he became vice president. Clinton and Jefferson did not get along. 

            Clinton ran again for Governor of New York in 1801, fearing that Aaron Burr (who he once made Attorney General but since grew to distrust him), would resign the vice presidency and run for governor. He won easily. Even though he was governor, his nephew, De Witt Clinton, was the real power in New York. 

            In the Election of 1804, the Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans dumped their disloyal vice president Aaron Burr in favor of Clinton. Thomas Jefferson supported him mostly because at age 65 he would be too old to run against his chosen successor, James Madison, in the Election of 1808. Clinton, however, had other plans. New York Democratic Republicans were tired of Virginians dominating their party and saw this as a chance to get some control. 

            They won the election, making Clinton the first Vice President to be elected as a "running mate" under the terms of the Twelfth Amendment, however President Jefferson ignored his vice president so as not to encourage his presidential ambitions. While in Washington D.C., Clinton kept to himself socially. As the Election of 1808 approached, support in the party was between Madison and Clinton. Madison was nominated by the Democratic Republicans, but to keep the support of New Yorkers, nominated Clinton as the vice president. Clinton was not thrilled at this prospect. In the Election of 1808, Clinton actually received 3 electoral votes for the presidency. In the end, he was elected Madison’s vice president.

            As President of the Senate, he was unable, due to poor health, to come to any sessions in 1811. He opened the 12th Congress at the end of 1811, but by March of 1812 was too ill to continue. He died a month later. He was the first person to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol building. 




Elbridge Gerry
5th Vice President

James Madison's 2nd vice president
Served:  March 4, 1813 to November 23, 1814
Born: July 17, 1744 in Marblehead, Massachusetts
Died: November 23, 1814 in Washington D.C.
Buried: in Congressional Cemetery in Washington D.C.

Gerry.jpg            Unlike Today, when a vice president is either elevated to the presidency or should for some reason be no longer able to serve in the office, there was no provision set up to replace a vice president when the Constitution was formed. It wouldn't be until the passage of the 25th Amendment in 1967 that a system would be set up to replace a vice president. The first time this occurred was in 1912 when Vice President George Clinton died in office. The vice presidency was vacant for almost a year. Elbridge Gerry was elected as vice president in 1812 and sworn in 1813 filling the position. However, it would be again vacant when Gerry became the second vice president to die in office a year and a half later.

            The son of a former British sea captain, Gerry graduated from Harvard College in 1758. After graduation, he returned home to Marblehead to join the families thriving mercantile and shipping business. He got interested in politics as the Colonies started to move toward independence. Gerry was elected to the Second Continental Congress in December 1775, serving until 1780 and again from 1783 to 1785. As a member, he signed the Declaration of Independence which he considered the greatest single act of his life. 

Gerry_grave.jpg            After the war, Gerry was a member of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. His political philosophy was that a "natural elite" of able and talented individuals should govern the new nation and not democracy in its truest from. He felt too much democracy would jeopardize the stability of the government or jeopardize the liberties of the people. During the Convention, Gerry strode toward the middle ground between the federalists and those favoring states' rights. He pushed for the "Great Compromise". As the Convention wore on, Gerry began to believe that the Constitution would give the Federal Government too much power. Wanting to save a document that he now considered seriously flawed, Gerry wanted to include a bill of rights and several specific proposals to safeguard popular liberties. All were defeated. He opposed the idea that the vice president is also the President of the Senate, saying that the Executive Branch should have nothing to do with the Legislature. In the end, Gerry refused to sign the Constitution.

            Federalist in Massachusetts felt betrayed by Gerry and he was defeated in his bid to be governor. He was, however, elected to the House of Representatives for two terms. Tiring of the constant fighting between Hamiltonian Federalists and Jeffersonian Democratic Republicans, he retired from the House in 1793. At the age of 41, he married Ann Thompson. Ann Gerry's had ten children  between 1787 and 1801, severely straining her health and causing Gerry to stay at home.

        President John Adams made Gerry an envoy to France where he became involved in the XYZ Affair. Disliked by Federalists, Gerry slowly moved into the Democratic Republican political party. In 1810, Gerry was elected Governor of Massachusetts. He was re-elected to a second term. It was during this term that Gerry approved a controversial redistricting plan designed to give Democratic Republicans an advantage of Federalists in the state senatorial elections. The Federalist newspapers responded to this plan with cartoon figures of a salamander-shape election district, called the "Gerrymander", adding to the American political lexicon a term that is still used Today whenever a political party in power changes a political district to gain a political advantage.

            In the Election of 1816, James Madison wanted a stable New Englander on his ticket to replace the dead George Clinton. Despite some misgivings over Gerry's age (he was 67 at the time), he ran and was elected with Madison. Strangely enough, he did very little to attach electors in Massachusetts, two voted for him and none voted for Madison.

            Gerry remained at home in Massachusetts on inauguration day, March 4, 1813, taking his oath of office there. He did go to Washington D.C. to preside over the Senate. He actively supported the War of 1812, despite the fact that most New Englanders did not. The war brought great divisions in Congress and caused Gerry's health to get worse. Gerry spent the summer of 1814 in Massachusetts. When he returned to Washington D.C., he found the capital had changed. The British troops had burned most of the city's public buildings, including the Capitol, and the Senate would meet in temporary quarters for the remainder of his term. 

            Gerry defended the administration, but the pressure of the war was draining his health. He became seriously ill in late November 1814. On November 22, he retired early in the evening. The next morning he was complaining of chest pains. He died at his boardinghouse later that day.

            I added Gerry to my list on July 28, 2002 on a weekend trip to Manassas, Virginia with my wife Debbie and my nephew Damian. We had gone to the National Cathedral for 11 am Sunday service that morning and also visited President Woodrow Wilson. It was incredibly hot that day in Washington D.C., the temperature hovering at around 100 degrees. We also visited Governor Samuel Lewis Southard of New Jersey.

          Actor Tom Beckett portrayed Elbridge Gerry in the 2008 HBO mini-series “John Adams.”




  Daniel D. Tompkins
6th Vice President

James Monroe's vice president
Served:  March 4, 1817 to March 4, 1825
Born: June 21, 1774 near Scarsdale in Westchester County, New York
Died: June 11, 1825 in New York
Buried: St. Mark's Church in the Bowery in New York City

Tompins.jpg            This vice president was very close, if not the closest. I got him in the Bowery in Manhattan. The neighborhood is not what it used to be when Tompkins was buried here. I was just happy I didn't have to wake any homeless people up so I could get the picture, there were two sleeping in front of the church. The only other famous person here is Peter Stuyvesant, 'Ol Peg Leg Pete. Tompkins died shortly after leaving office. I guess no longer being the VP was too much for him to bear. I wonder how Al Gore doing these days?

            Daniel D. Tompkins was one of eleven children of Jonathan Griffin Tompkins and Sarah Ann Hyatt Tompkins, tenant farmers from a farm near Scarsdale. During the American Revolution, Tomkin's father served in the militia and after the war, he served as a delegate to the state legislature. Tompkins graduated from Columbia University, first in his class, in 1795. He became a lawyer and married Hannah Minthorne, the daughter of a well-connected Democratic-Republican merchant. Tompkins' father-in-law was a prominent member of the Tammany Society (also known as "Bucktails," after the distinctive plumes worn at official and ceremonial gatherings), a political organization that would one day challenge the Clinton dynasty for control of the New York Democratic-Republican party.

            Tompkins began his political career in 1800 politicking for his father-in-law. Tompkins served as a New York City delegate to the 1801 state constitutional convention and was elected to the New York assembly in 1803. In 1804 he won a seat in the United States House of Representatives, but he resigned before Congress convened to accept an appointment as an associate justice of the New York Supreme Court. Tompkins was a popular judge and close associate of New York City mayor De Witt Clinton (nephew of then current vice president George Clinton), who supported him in the 1807 gubernatorial race in an effort to unseat Morgan Lewis. Tompkins was portrayed as the "Farmer's boy" as opposed to the aristocratic Lewis and won a solid victory. Tompkins soon broke ranks with Clinton and supported his rival, James Madison, in the 1808 presidential election.

            Re-elected governor in 1810, Tompkins was a loyal supporter of the Madison administration. After the United States declared war on Great Britain in the summer of 1812, he did his best to raise troops and supplies for the war effort. With Federalists, who opposed the War of 1812, in control of the state legislature and the Clintonians also resolutely opposed to the war, Tompkins was hard pressed to come up with the money to pay for troops and supplies. He used his own money to pay and arm the militia and personally endorsed loans to finance strengthening the state's defenses. New York being on the border with Canada was in constant danger of attack from the British. Tompkins, himself, was in a tight personal financial position since he was in heavy debt because of large purchases of land on the north shore of Staten Island. He built a mansion on Fort Hill (a.k.a. Brighton Heights). Tompkins bought a large parcel of land for development from Cornelius Vanderbilt which would eventually become the village of Tompkinsville. Because of the debt, he actually turned down President Madison's offer of a cabinet position simple because the salary would was too small to support his family.

            Tompkins was well respected by the people of New York and was praised for his leadership in the newspapers. In 1916's gubernatorial race, Tompkins defeated Federalist Rufus King by a comfortable margin in an intensely partisan campaign focusing on the candidates' wartime records. But the victory was marred by Federalist accusations that Governor Tompkins had misused public funds during the war, charges that would haunt him for the remainder of his life.

            Many in New York wanted to see Tompkins become president. Encouraged by Tompkins' victory, his supporters redoubled their efforts to secure his presidential nomination. Outside of New York, however, few Americans had ever heard of Tompkins, and few Democratic-Republicans believed him capable of winning the presidency. The Democratic-Republicans instead backed "heir apparent" James Monroe, who received the nomination on March 16, 1816. In a concession to New York Democratic-Republicans, who were crucial to the party, Tompkins was given the vice-presidential nomination. Tompkins, like many New Yorkers, believed that Virginians had monopolized the presidency long enough, but, he assured one supporter, he had "no objection to being vice President under Mr. Munro." The end of the war brought popularity for the Democratic-Republican Party and marked the beginning of the end for the Federalists, who had become suspect because of their opposition to the war. In this euphoric post-war atmosphere, Monroe and Tompkins won an easy victory over Federalist presidential candidate Rufus King of New York beginning what historians have called "The Era of Good Feelings." Somehow, the 'Good Feelings' will not extend to Vice President Tompkins.

            Tompkins' was in poor health, the result of a fall from his horse in 1814. His health problems kept him for the most part at his home in Staten Island instead of Washington D.C. presiding over the senate as was the job of the vice president. Tompkins' health eventually improved enough to permit his return to public life, but his financial affairs were in such a chaotic state by 1817 that he found little time to attend the Senate. In his haste to raise the huge sums required for New York's wartime defense, he had failed to keep good records, commingling his money with state and federal funds. Tompkins claimed he was owed money, setting the stage for a long and bitter battle that continued through his first term as vice president. Tompkins financial position grew worse as he couldn't pay off his debts. Tompkins slid deeper into debt and began to drink heavily.

Tompins_grave.jpg            The vice president's financial troubles, and his continuing involvement in New York politics, kept him away from Washington for extended periods. He feuded with his former ally, De Witt Clinton, now governor of New York. Governor Clinton's resentment of the "Virginia dynasty" knew no bounds, and with Tompkins now on record as a supporter of the Monroe administration, the long-simmering rivalry between the vice president and his former mentor finally came to a head. In 1820, the New York Senate voted to award Tompkins money to settle his accounts, but Clinton's allies in the state assembly blocked it saying that Tompkins owed them money instead.

            Tompkins grew increasingly bitter with each new assault on his integrity, but many New Yorkers, having themselves suffered severe financial reverses during the panic of 1819, sympathized with him, and continued to hold him in high regard. In 1820, the Bucktails nominated Tompkins as their candidate to oppose Clinton in the gubernatorial race, which he ultimately lost by a narrow margin. However, Tompkins achieved a personal victory when the state legislature finally approved a compromise settlement over the money owed him.

            When Tompkins did find time to attend the Senate, he did a poor job. His shortcomings were painfully apparent during the debates over the admission of Missouri into the Union. The issue was not so much statehood but of the institution of slavery. During the debates, Tompkins returned to New York to work on his gubernatorial campaign. His abrupt departure angered antislavery senators, who were thus deprived of the vice president's tie-breaking vote in the event of a deadlock between the free states and the slave states. However, it didn't really matter, since there were no tie votes to be broken. Many northern were disappointed that Tompkins did not speak out against slavery and instead just left. The debates continued through the spring of 1820, without Tompkins, when Congress finally approved the Missouri Compromise.

            Tompkins managed to avoid the slavery question, despite being a leader in the fight to abolish slavery in New York State, which would certainly have alienated President Monroe, an important consideration since Tompkins had every intention of remaining on the ticket as Monroe's running mate in 1820.

            By 1820, Tompkins health was getting worse. The strain on his personal life and his heavy drinking were taking their toll. Still, even though some Democratic-Republicans attempted to block his renomination, he was added to the ticket with Monroe for re-election. The 1820 presidential election generated surprisingly little interest, given the problems then facing the nation. The country was suffering from a severe depression and the American occupation of Spanish Florida had unleashed a torrent of anti-administration criticism from House Speaker Henry Clay of Kentucky. Although the Missouri controversy had been resolved for the moment, the truce between North and South was still perilously fragile. Monroe ran virtually unopposed, with the Federalist Party now dead, winning all but one of the 232 electoral votes. Tompkins, however, did not do as well. Not all the electors would vote for him complaining he was absent from Congress far too much. 13 of the electors who voted for Monroe, voted for vice presidents other then Tompkins.

            Tompkins missed the opening session of the 17th Congress on December 3, 1821, and continuing ill health kept him away most of the time. Tompkins was clearly losing control and was seen walking around Washington D.C. in a drunken state. He was even accused of presiding over Congress while intoxicated. During his brief stay in Washington, he had managed to alienate Monroe, having severely criticized the president. Tompkins would spend the next several months trying to settle his accounts. Before leaving Washington D.C., he assigned his Staten Island mansion and his other land holdings, to a group of trustees, and on his return to New York, he moved into a run-down boardinghouse in Manhattan.

            While he was away from Congress. The Senate approved a bill, despite the objections of New Yorker Martin Van Buren, which would keep public officials who owed money, like Tompkins, from being paid depriving Tompkins of his last remaining source of funds. However, in June of 1822, A Federal Court cleared Tompkins of any wrongdoings and awarded him $136,799.

            Tompkins, now exonerated, returned to Washington to resume his duties in the Senate a seemingly changed man. Unfortunately, the money owed Tompkins was not paid right away leaving him and his family in dire financial straits. He remained in the senate for the rest of his term, but told everyone he wanted to do nothing more after the election of 1824.

            After leaving Washington D.C., at the end of his term, the impoverished vice president continued to drink heavily, and after years of indebtedness his business affairs were in shambles. Tompkins died in Tompkinsville (today it's a
neighborhood in Staten Island) less than three months later. He was buried in his wife's family vault in St. Mark's Church in the Bowery. After his death his once-magnificent Staten Island estate was sold off in a series of sheriff's sales. His mansion was later torn down. In 1847, Congress approved a payment of close to $50,000 to Tompkins' heirs, still less then what was owed him.

            Tompkins Square Park in Manhattan, once a salt marsh owned by Peter Stuyvesant and later by Tompkins was drained and developed in 1834, into a park named after the vice president. His college essays were collected in A Columbia College Student in the Eighteenth Century (ed. by R. W. Irwin and E. L. Jacobsen, 1940).




John C. Calhoun
7th Vice President


John Quincy Adams's vice president and
Andrew Jackson's 1st vice president
Served:  March 4, 1825 to December 28, 1832
Born: March 18, 1782 near Long Canes Creek, South Carolina
Died: March 31, 1850 in Washington D.C.
Buried: in St. Philip's churchyard in Charleston, South Carolina

Calhoun.jpeg            Here is the man that started it all. He was my first grave photo of someone famous. I visited Charleston, South Carolina in December of 1984. It was winter, the trees had no leaves and there were Christmas decorations out, but walking around in shorts somehow didn't feel wintry. I flew down for a few days to visit my friend Carl, who was spending the winter there. He had rented a nice apartment on Lagarr Street in the old historical section of the city. During my stay, we visited Fort Sumter, where it all started and the WWII aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Yorktown (the second one - the first having been sunk at the Battle of Midway). I also walked around the old part of the city taking photos. The architecture here is of beautiful ante-bellum homes. There are a number churches with churchyards in Charleston. Among those that I visited, there is St. Michael's Episcopal Church on Broad and Meeting Streets (the oldest church in Charleston - built in 1761), which has a large white steeple. Its churchyard has, among others, U.S. Constitution signers John Rutledge and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Confederate general Mordecai Gist.  Nearby is Saint Philip's Church Episcopal Church on Church Street. This church is large and gray with features an octagonal tower with Corinthian columns. It was here that I found John C. Calhoun. With Calhoun is Declaration of Independence signer, Edward Rutledge and Constitution signer Charles Pinckney (cousin of the Charles Cotesworth Pinckney). Both Pinckney’s signed the Constitution which must have been somewhat confusing. Both churches, along with the rest of Charleston, were damaged in an earthquake in 1886 and by Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

                 Debbie and I went to Charleston in 2009 for a couple of days. I had some awesome shrimp and grits. We visited St. Philip’s again so I could get some better photos of Calhoun’s grave.   

                 St. Philip's has a churchyard adjacent to three sides and another one across the street. I have read that St. Philip's only allows people that were born in the city of Charleston to buried next to the church. Since Calhoun was not, he was buried across the street. His wife, who was born in Charleston, was buried next to the church. I guess she took 'death do us part' literally.

                Calhoun is an interesting person whose life was full of contradictions. Considered among the three greatest senators from the first half of the 19th Century. He has been called one of the "Great Triumvirate" of Congressional leaders, along with his Congressional colleagues Daniel Webster and Henry Clay. He began his political career as a ‘War Hawk’ who supported nationalist policies like internal improvements and protective tariffs. Later, as he grew older, his views shifted to being an extreme sectionalist who believed in States’ Rights over Federal government. He is mostly known for his fierce dedication to the preservation of slavery. He was a staunch believer of liberty, except for slaves, above everything else, even the union of the country. Calhoun died 11 years before the start of the American Civil War, but he was an inspiration to the secessionists who pulled the country apart in 1860 and 61.

Calhoun_grave.jpg                  Calhoun was the son of a Scotch-Irish immigrant from County Donegal in Ireland who took up farming in the north-west area of South Carolina. In 1804, he would graduate from Yale University and after studying law in Connecticut became a lawyer in his home state. Four years later in January of 1811, he married his first cousin and daughter of a U.S. Senator, Floride Bonneau Calhoun. They would have seven children who lived to adulthood.

                 In 1810, at age 28, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where he would display his brilliant intellectual and oratory skill that would make him famous. He joined the other young congressmen who wanted war with Great Britain. Called War Hawks, they pushed President James Madison into declaring war against their former enemy. The war did not go well for America as the British Navy blockaded American ports. In addition, invasions of Canada failed disastrously. The war would have been a total disasters if not for a number of naval victories. In 1814, the British Army captured Washington D.C. and burned the capitol building and the executive mansion (future White House). A stubborn defense outside Baltimore, especially at Fort McHenry, staved off complete disaster. The two sides concluded a peace treaty before Christmas – not before a collection of Americans, led by General Andrew Jackson, completely defeated a British force set on capturing New Orleans.

                 Calhoun was upset about the handling of the war and was determined to make the United States stronger in the future. Calhoun aggressively pushed for protective tariffs (to build up industry), a national bank and internal improvements (such as roads and canals). President James Monroe appointed Calhoun to be Secretary of War, serving until 1825, during which time he set out to build up the army and navy. During that time, he supported the Missouri Compromise in 1820 even though other Southern politicians were opposed to it. Calhoun continued his role as a leading nationalist during the "Era of Good Feeling".

                 Calhoun originally was a candidate for President of the United States in the election of 1824. After failing to win the endorsement of the South Carolina legislature, he decided to be a candidate for Vice President. At age 42 he felt there was time in the future to be president. Although no presidential candidate received a majority in the Electoral College and the election was ultimately resolved by the House of Representatives, the Electoral College elected Calhoun vice president by a landslide. Calhoun served four years under John Quincy Adams, but he was shocked at what he thought was a deal that Henry Clay and Adams allegedly made that has been dubbed “The Corrupt Bargain.” Despite being a member of the government, he did all he could to stop the nationalist programs of Adams and Clay. In 1828, Calhoun ran for reelection as the running mate of Andrew Jackson. With Jackson’s victory, he became one of two vice presidents to serve under two presidents.

                 Despite both men being Southern slave owners, Jackson and Calhoun were constantly at odds.

                 In the 1997 Steven Spielberg film Amistad, Calhoun was portrayed by actor Arliss Howard (known for playing Pvt. Cowboy in Full Metal Jacket). Actor Ted Osborne portrayed Calhoun in two 1939 short films; The Monroe Doctrine and Old Hickory.

St. Michael's Episcopal Church



Martin Van Buren
8th Vice President

Andrew Jackson’s 2nd vice president

Served:  March 4, 1833 to March 4, 1837 
Born: December 5, 1782 in Kinderhook, New York
Died: July 24, 1862 in Kinderhook, New York
Buried: Kinderhook Cemetery in Kinderhook, New York

Van_Buren.jpgVan_Buren_grave.jpg                 Martin Van Buren was the 2nd DPOTUS that I picked up on a Columbus Day weekend trip through upstate New York and New England back in 1999. My wife and I had just left Franklin D. Roosevelt in Hyde Park and drove up the highway 9 to Kinderhook, NY. We stopped for lunch on the way. We had beautiful weather in the morning, but it became cloudy as we drove north. We first went to Van Buren's home called Lindenwald. they give tours every hour. We missed the 3:00 tour by 15 minutes and didn't want to stay around for the 4 o'clock one. We still had to get to Albany and Chet Arthur and eventually to Massachusetts for dinner. We walked around his home and took some pictures before we headed off to the cemetery. We drove north on Route 9 to the traffic light in Kinderhook, than west on Albany Road. The cemetery is on the left. Van Buren's grave is by far the biggest one in the cemetery, so it was easy to find.

                 "The Red Fox of Kinderhook", as he was called, was the first president to born an American, the son of a Dutch tavern owner. He was friendly, sociable and always well dressed. His wife, Hannah, died when he was 37. Van Buren was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1921 and immediately set about politicking. He supported Andrew Jackson in the Election of 1828. When Jackson won, he named Van Buren his Secretary of State. Van Buren and Jackson became very close. One person at the time said, "when Jackson dances, it is Van Buren who plays the fiddle."

                 In 1836, with Jackson's endorsement, Van Buren was elected president defeating Whig candidate William Henry Harrison by an over 2-1 margin. Unfortunately for Van Buren, he paid the price for his predecessor's financial policies. A financial panic became a depression which doomed Van Buren's presidency. He did, however, create the Treasury Department. He wasn't very good with humanitarian issues either. His continuation of Jackson's Indian removal policy caused the death of thousands of Indians (known as the Trail of Tears). When African slaves mutinied aboard the ship Amistad, he ordered them returned into slavery. He was easily defeated for re-election in 1840 by Harrison and he returned to Kinderhook.

                 Considered Pro-Slavery while he was president, he re-invented himself to join the "Free-Soil" Party and ran as their presidential candidate in 1848. His comeback fell short as he received only 10% of the popular vote. Van Buren suffered from chronic asthma. He came down with pneumonia in 1861 and was bedridden. On Thursday, July 24, 1862, "The Little Magician" died of heart failure at Lindenwald. His funeral from the Reformed Dutch Church of Kinderhook was the following Monday. He was buried in a rosewood coffin next to his wife, Hannah.

                In the 1997 Steven Spielberg film Amistad, Van Buren was portrayed by British actor Nigel Hawthorne. In the film, John Quincy Adams is portrayed by British actor Anthony Hopkins. So Spielberg had two American presidents portrayed by two British actors.

Governors of New York 
White House Biography of Martin van Buren 
The Internet Public Library Biography 
The American President Biography



John Tyler
10th Vice President

William Henry Harrison’s vice president

Served:  March 3, 1841 to April 6, 1841 
Born: March 29, 1790 in Greenway, Virginia
Died: January 18, 1862 in Richmond, Virginia
Buried: Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia

Tyler.jpg                 My wife, Debbie, and I took a trip to Washington D.C. back in 1996 before we were married. We drove down to Richmond for the day. We visited Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. It is called the Arlington  of the Confederacy because of the many famous Confederate people buried here. After entering the cemetery we came upon Confederate President Jefferson Davis first. We then drove to what is called on the map as President's Circle. In the middle is James Monroe. It is easy to find it since it looks like a giant Victorian birdcage. A few yards away is John Tyler. Aside from the two presidents, there are 26 Confederate generals buried here. Among the more famous are JEB Stuart, George Pickett, Henry Heth and Fitzhugh Lee. After leaving Hollywood, we took a tour of the Virginia Statehouse (highly recommended). We had dinner in the Shockoe Slip District in Richmond at the Richbrau Brewing Company and Restaurant (I recommend the Griffin Golden Ale) . After which we drove back to our hotel in Arlington.

Tyler_grave.jpg                 John Tyler is an interesting person. He was the first vice-president to be elevated to the presidency when the sitting president died. He was the only president to switch parties while he was in office. He also was the only president to get elected to the Confederate Congress. Tyler was born on a plantation in Virginia. He was the 6th Virginian born president. He went to the College of William and Mary (like Jefferson and Monroe). He was the son of the Governor of Virginia. He was a natural for politics, which he entered in 1811. He was elected Governor of Virginia himself in 1825.  He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1827 and switched parties. Now a Whig, he became William Henry Harrison's running mate for the 1840 presidential election. He was the "Tyler" in "Tippecanoe and Tyler, too". They easily defeated the unpopular Martin Van Buren.

                One month into his presidency, Harrison died. Tyler, who was at home in Virginia didn't even know Harrison was sick. On Sunday morning, in April of 1841, a messenger came to his home in Williamsburg, Virginia to inform him that the president was dead. This started a major controversy. He was the first vice president to become president. A southern slave owner, he was not seen as being presidential enough. Also, no one seemed to know if he was the president or the acting president. John Quincy Adams referred to him as "His Accidency". His own cabinet (actually it was Harrison's) told him that they had to approve everything he did. Tyler stood up to them and everyone else feeling he was the president, just as if he was elected. The cabinet backed down as did everyone else and Tyler was sworn in as president three days later.

                 As a Whig president, Tyler immediately got into trouble with his own party when he started going against many of their plans. A stubborn and uncompromising man, he was being called a traitor to the Whig Party. Within six months, all but one of Tyler's cabinet members resigned in protest. Prominent Whig politicians Henry Clay and Daniel Webster even introduced Impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives (It went no where). Of course, at the end of his term, he was not nominated for re-election. He left Washington D.C. for his plantation "Sherwood Forest" (I haven't been there yet, but I plan to visit it).

                 In 1842, while he was president, his wife Letitia, who had already suffered a stroke, died. Tyler was the first president to become a widower while in office. Within months, he was remarried to Julia Gardiner, who was 30 years younger than him. This marriage produced seven kids, to go along with the seven from his first wife. Tyler was easily our most prolific president. Incidentally, it was his wife Julia that started the tradition of playing "Hail to the Chief".

                 After the White House, Tyler stayed involved in politics in Virginia. In 1861, after Virginia seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy, he was elected to the Confederate House of Representatives. He moved into a Richmond (the Confederate capitol) hotel in early January. On January 12, after his wife joined him he became sick and collapsed in the hotel dining room. The doctors diagnosed him as suffering from bronchitis and a liver disorder. He planned to return to his Virginia plantation, but died the night before. He never got the chance to serve in the Confederate Congress.

                 Tyler's body lay in state in the Confederate Congress draped with a Confederate flag. His funeral was in St. Paul's Episcopal Church and a large procession (around 150 carriages), which included Confederate President Jefferson Davis, escorted him to Hollywood Cemetery. Ironically, he was buried right next to President James Monroe who was a staunch Federalist. Considered a traitor by many in Washington D.C., his death was officially ignored. It wouldn't by until the 20th Century when an official marker was placed on his grave by Congress.

Sherwood Forest 
White House Biography of John Tyler 
The Internet Public Library Biography 
The American President Biography




George Mifflin Dallas
11th Vice President

James Knox Polk's vice president
Served:  March 4, 1845 to March 4, 1849

Born: July 10, 1792 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died: December 31, 1864 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Buried: in St. Peter's Churchyard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Dallas.jpg                Debbie and I were taking a trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania for a few days in July of 2001. We were going to enjoy Amish Country and pick up DPOTUS James Buchannan. We first stopped in Philadelphia. I was born here and Debbie went to college here so we both had some ties to the city. Strangely enough, it is not too far away, yet we never seem to come here. So, we visited for the afternoon, before heading to Lancaster. We walked around the old part of the city and visited St. Peter's Church. Outside the church is the churchyard where Dallas is buried along with War of 1812 naval hero Stephen Decatur and painter Charles Wilson Peale, who did portraits of people like George Washington. Luckily, I had the information that Dallas was buried there before we arrived. There is no mention anywhere about a vice president being buried next to the church. I would think that at the very least, a sign commemorating Dallas could be placed on the street next to the church. There are certainly enough other historical markers around this section of Philadelphia. 

Dallas_grave1.JPG                One of the problems I had with photographing Dallas’ grave was it was very sunny out and his grave was partially in the shade. Normally, I love sunny days for photography because it brings out all of the colors, but it does cause a problem when things are partially shaded. Dallas’ name is at the very top and it can’t be read because its washed out in the photo. I will have to return on an overcast day and get a better photo.

                 George Mifflin Dallas was born in Philadelphia while it was the capital of the United States. He was the son of Alexander Dallas, a prosperous attorney who served as President Madison's Secretary of the Treasury. He graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1810 and became a  lawyer. He worked as a private secretary to Albert Gallatin,  the U.S. Minister to Russia. Dallas returned in 1814 and commenced the practice of law in New York City. After working for the United States Bank from 1815 to 1817, he returned to Philadelphia and was appointed deputy attorney general in 1817. In 1828, Dallas was elected the mayor of Philadelphia. He left the position six months later to be the United States district attorney for the eastern district of Pennsylvania. In 1831, he was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Isaac D. Barnard and served from December 13, 1831, to March 3, 1833, where he was chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs. He declined to be a candidate for reelection in 1832 and resumed his law practice. However, a year later he became attorney general of Pennsylvania. In 1837, Dallas was appointed by President Martin Van Buren as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Russia (this is what ambassadors were called back then, the title was changed to Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in the 1890's and is still used today). He returned from St. Petersburg, Russia to the United States in 1839 at his own request.  In the years following, he was engaged in a long struggle with James Buchannan for party leadership in Pennsylvania.

                 In 1844, Dallas was chosen by the Democrats to be the vice-president on the ticket with Tennessee governor, James Knox Polk. They won easily over Whig candidates Henry Clay and Theodore Frelinghuysen, though the popular vote was close (only 38,000 votes separated the two tickets). Polk, the Manifest Destiny president declared war on Mexico shortly after the election.

                 As vice-president, Dallas was very loyal to Polk. Though his struggle with Buchannan, who was Polk's secretary of state, continued. In 1846, Dallas cast the tie-breaking vote on low tariff legislation, voting for the bill which Polk supported but which was opposed by the majority of those in his own state. He was hated so much so that he was hung in effigy there and he had to move his family away for their own safety. He never again held political office in Pennsylvania.

George Dallas grave 2.jpg                 After his term as vice-president, Dallas was appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary (there is that title again) to Great Britain by President Franklin Pierce from 1856 to 1861 (he replaced James Buchannan who was running for president). During this time, he worked hard to keep relations with Queen Victoria and Great Britain normal as the United States was coming apart over the slavery issue. He was relieved by Charles Francis Adams in May of 1861 and returned to Philadelphia as the Civil War broke out. He died there almost four  years later on New Year’s Eve in 1864 the age of 72.

                 Five presidents (John Adams,  John Quincy Adams, James Monroe, Martin Van Buren and Buchannan) and two vice-presidents (Dallas & Charles Dawes) served as ambassadors to Great Britain, along with a president's father (John Kennedy) and two president's sons (John Q. Adams & Abraham Lincoln).

                 Incidentally, many people think the City of Dallas was named after George Dallas. However, the Dallas city webpage says it most likely is not. Dallas County, which was named three years after the city, was named for George Dallas at the same time Polk County was named after James Polk. According to city records, Dallas had its name in 1843, before George Dallas was elected VP. This makes it somewhat unlikely they would have named the city after him. Some think it may have been named after George Dallas' brother Commodore Alexander James Dallas, who was stationed in the Gulf of Mexico and was the U. S. Treasury Secretary around the end of the War of 1812. Some think it was after Walter R. Dallas, who fought at San Jacinto, and whose family had land near John Neely Bryan's (the town's founder and namer) land. Still others think it was in a contest held there in 1842. Since Bryan never wrote anything down, they probably will never know for sure. I'm sure you were all wondering about this.

                 Dallas is the great-great-great-granduncle of Rhode Island's longest serving senator, Claiborne Pell. In the picture, you can't make Dallas' name out because of the sunlight - he's at the very top (I have to make another trip back to Philly on a cloudy day and retake the photo).




Millard Fillmore
12th Vice President

Zachary Taylor’s vice president

Served:  March 4, 1801 to March 4, 1805 
Born: January 7, 1800, in Locke Township (now Summerhill), New York
Died: March 8, 1874 in Buffalo, New York
Buried: Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York

Fillmore.jpgFillmore_grave2.jpg                Debbie and I took a trip to Niagara Falls in July of 2001. We flew into Buffalo and rented a car to drive to Canada. We stopped at Forest Lawn on our way. Luckily it was a Sunday, and we were able to take the tour. Forest Lawn is very beautiful. Fillmore was easy to find, just follow the signs.

                 If you don't know the answer to a presidential trivia question, I have been told, say Millard Fillmore. While this is not true, very little is know of one of our more obscure presidents. Born into poverty in western New York, Fillmore was a self educated man. He was self driven and succeeded in whatever he did. He was elected to Congress in 1833 and was chosen by the Whig Party as it's vice president on the ticket with General Zachary Taylor in 1848. They wanted to balance out Taylor, a southern slaveowner, with a moderate northerner. After they won, Fillmore was forced to live in Washington D.C. alone. For whatever reason, his wife Abigail insisted on living in Buffalo. He also didn't agree with President Taylor on the issue of slavery. Taylor opposed any expansion of slavery into the territories and Fillmore wanted a more compromising position toward the South.

                 On July 8, 1850, while Fillmore was presiding over the Senate he received a message from the White House that President Taylor was dying. The following night, he received a message that said, "Zachary Taylor is no more." As president, unlike other Whig presidents Tyler and taylor,  went along with his party. He supported the Compromise of 1850, which Taylor threatened to veto. The compromise brought some temporary peace, delaying the Civil War, and made Fillmore popular. Soon, both the North and the South came to hate the Compromise and they blamed Fillmore for it. He was accused of being pro-slavery and being an abolitionist. He felt he was neither. Southern Whigs still supported him for re-election but Northern Whigs, still fuming over the Fugitive Slave Act, refused to nominate him for the Presidential Election of 1852. The Whigs instead went with Mexican War hero, General Winfield Scott (The Whigs liked nominating generals). Sadly, at the inauguration of his successor, Franklin Pierce, his wife Abigail caught a cold and died several weeks later.

Fillmore_grave.jpg                 Fillmore returned to Buffalo, but still remained interested in politics. He was the American, or Know Nothings, Party's candidate for president in 1856. He lost his only presidential election, but he did get 21% of the popular vote and carried the state of Maryland. In 1858, he remarried to Caroline Carmichael McIntosh and enjoyed good health

Fillmore_grave3.jpg                 On February 13, 1874, while Fillmore was shaving, he suffered his first stroke. He suffered another one later in the month. On March 8, Fillmore died. Placed in a rosewood coffin, a private service was held was in his home on Niagara Square in Buffalo (now the site of the Statler Hotel). Afterwards, he was taken to St. Paul's Cathedral where he laid in state. Following a brief service, he was escorted in a flag covered hearse to Forest Lawn Cemetery. Fillmore had chosen the site where he, along with both of his wives, are buried. Forest Lawn Cemetery gets thousands of visitors each year to Fillmore's grave. In the summer on Sundays, you can take guided tours through the cemetery in small buses. They have actors in costume playing the parts of a historic characters who are buried in the cemetery.










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