On June 14, 1816, Elizabeth Priscilla Cooper, better known as Priscilla, was born to parents Thomas and Mary Cooper in New York City. As a young woman, Priscilla followed in her father’s footsteps, beginning an acting career that put her on stages across the country.1 After seeing her perform, lawyer Robert Tyler called on her; the two married on September 12, 1839.2 They went on to have nine children together, six of whom reached adulthood.3
Her father-in-law, Vice President John Tyler, suddenly became president following the death of William Henry Harrison in 1841. Tyler’s first wife, Letitia, was unable to serve as first lady due to her health; Mrs. Tyler later passed in 1842. As a result, Priscilla Cooper Tyler primarily served as White House hostess from 1841 to 1844.
Priscilla’s time on the stage prepared her well to serve as hostess over the next several years. She hosted receptions, dinners, and other events at the White House until President Tyler remarried Julia Gardiner in 1844.4
After Priscilla and Robert Tyler left the White House, they moved around, settling in cities including Philadelphia and Montgomery, Alabama. Priscilla Cooper Tyler died on December 29, 1889, and is buried in Montgomery.5
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