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"The First Rose of Texas Was the ‘Rose of Long Island’”

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“The First Rose of Texas Was the ‘Rose of Long Island’”

Julia Gardiner TylerJulia Gardiner Tyler became the first of America’s first ladies to marry a sitting president when she “eloped” with John Tyler on June 26, 1844.  She quickly became politicized as newspaper articles and wickedly satirical caricatures shamelessly linked their marriage to Tyler’s pursuit of the annexation of Texas—his chief policy goal as a president without a party.  Annexation became the signature issue of the 1844 presidential election campaign, a campaign that metaphorically gave the administration’s attempt to add Texas to the union a feminine face—Julia’s—and one that dramatically increased sectional tensions over the expansion of slavery.


Christopher J. Leahy, Professor of History, Keuka College, Keuka Park, NY, is a nationally recognized expert on the U.S. presidency and nineteenth-century American politics.  He is the author of President without a Party: The Life of John Tyler (LSU Press, 2020), the first full-scale biography of America’s tenth president published in more than 80 years.  He is also the author of numerous journal articles and reviews in scholarly publications, in addition to work on First Lady Julia Gardiner Tyler that he has co-authored with his wife, Sharon Williams Leahy.

Sharon Williams Leahy is an independent scholar who holds an M.A. in Historic Preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design.  She is the author of “Not a Model: First Lady Julia Gardiner Tyler and New York City’s Print Culture,” New York History (Fall 2018), as well as work she has co-authored with her husband, Christopher J. Leahy.

Elizabeth Lorelei Thacker-Estrada, who earned a Master's degree in Library and Information Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, is the Manager of the Merced Branch of the San Francisco Public Library.  She is the Vice President of the Institute for Historical Study and an inaugural lifetime individual member of the First Ladies Association for Research and Education.  She has contributed to White House Studies (2001), Laura Bush: The Report to the First Lady (2001, 2005), American First Ladies (2002, 2006), The Presidential Companion (2003, 2006), Life in the White House (2004), Michelle Obama: The Report to the First Lady (2009), The First White House Library (2010), the Companion to First Ladies (2016), and the Online Biographical Dictionary of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the United States (2020-2021).  She was an invited speaker at the 2010 “Reading in the White House” symposium at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.  

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