John Tyler was the United States’ 10th President; after the briefest stint as Vice-President in history. He was elected as Vice President in 1841, accompanying William Henry Harrison who was elected President. Almost one month to the day after the inauguration, Harrison died and Tyler assumed the role of President.
His route to the Presidency may have been unorthodox, but Tyler did stick to tradition when it came to Presidential Pets. He and his second wife, Julia Tyler, had a canary that they adored. They named the male canary “Johnny Ty” after the President and set about to immediately find him the perfect mate.
When a suitable canary was found in New York, the Tylers set about to purchase it. The love match was shipped by steamboat to Richmond, Virginia, and then took a carriage ride all the way to the White House. The Tylers placed the new bird into the cage with Johnny Ty, who did not react quite as expected. Upon the arrival of the new bird, Johnny Ty left his perch and sat at the bottom of the cage, hiding his head under his wing.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t just a bit of shy behavior – the new bird that the Tylers had gone to so much trouble to acquire turned out to be male, not female. Within a week, poor Johnny Ty had died. One hopes that the Tylers took more care when introducing birds in the future!