For many years, Letitia Christian Tyler had supervised the Tyler family's 1200-acre plantation, Greenway, in Charles City County, Virginia. But her health was poor during her husband's presidency. Mrs. Tyler was content to stay in the background and direct from behind the scenes the White House entertaining, the household management, and her children's care.
She informally received important visitors, including authors Charles Dickens and Washington Irving, and enjoyed discussing current events with them. The only time she appeared in public while First Lady was at the wedding of their daughter, Elizabeth. She died eight months after the wedding.
Letitia Harrison's success in running their plantation gave husband John Tyler the freedom to pursue his political career. The reverse of the coin depicts Mrs. Tyler and her two oldest children behind their Cedar Grove Plantation, where the Tylers were married in 1813.
On June 26, 1844, President Tyler married the young and vivacious Julia Gardiner. Although she was First Lady for only eight months, she quickly made her mark in Washington.
For example, James Sanderson's song "Hail to the Chief" had often been played to honor American Presidents, but Julia Tyler was the first of the First Spouses who asked that it be played on all official occasions especially to announce the president's arrival. This became a tradition that continues to this day.
Julia supported her husband's political goals, especially his efforts to annex Texas. Julia used her charm to move Congressmen, a Supreme Court justice, and cabinet members to back the cause. After Congress voted in favor of annexation and the President signed the resolution, he handed the gold pen he used to Julia in honor of her efforts. Afterward, she proudly wore the pen attached to her necklace on formal occasions.
On the back, President and Mrs. Tyler dance together. The polka became a national craze after Julia Tyler introduced the dance at a White House social event.