4. Like her husband, Julia had no moral objections to slavery – though she did object to Europeans telling slave-owners what to do!
After leaving the White House, the Tylers retired to Sherwood Forest, the plantation outside of Charles City, Virginia, owned by the President. Though Julia had been born and raised in the northern United States, and though she had traveled extensively through Europe, she nevertheless soon adjusted to life as the wife of a wealthy, southern plantation owner – and slave owner. The couple owned more than 60 slaves, put to work on around 1,100 acres of land.
Far from criticizing slavery, Julia sided with her husband, arguing that it was a State issue and that the Federal Government had no place interfering in a citizen’s business affairs. In fact, Julia even went so far as to write an essay in defense of slavery. Entitled The Women of England Vs. the Women of America, it was a direct response against an English-led petition to abolish the Atlantic slave trade. In turn, Julia’s polemic prompted the former slave Harriet Jacobs to pick up a pen and write the first of her many acclaimed and influential works highlighting the inherent evil of slavery.