Zachary Taylor

Zachary Taylor

Overview
Zachary Taylor was the 12th President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 (1849–1850) and an American military leader
Military history of the United States
The military history of the United States spans a period of over two centuries. During the course of those years, the United States evolved from a new nation fighting the British Empire for independence without a professional military , through a monumental American Civil War to the world's sole...

. Initially uninterested in politics, Taylor nonetheless ran as a Whig
Whig Party (United States)
The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from the early 1830s to the mid-1850s, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic...

 in the 1848 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1848
The United States presidential election of 1848 was an open race. President James K. Polk, having achieved all of his major objectives in one term and suffering from declining health that would take his life less than four months after leaving office, kept his promise not to seek re-election.The...

, defeating Lewis Cass
Lewis Cass
Lewis Cass was an American military officer and politician. During his long political career, Cass served as a governor of the Michigan Territory, an American ambassador, a U.S. Senator representing Michigan, and co-founder as well as first Masonic Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Michigan...

. Taylor was the last President to hold slaves while in office, and the second and also last Whig to win a presidential election.

Known as "Old Rough and Ready," Taylor had a forty-year military career in the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

, serving in the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

, the Black Hawk War
Black Hawk War
The Black Hawk War was a brief conflict fought in 1832 between the United States and Native Americans headed by Black Hawk, a Sauk leader. The war erupted soon after Black Hawk and a group of Sauks, Meskwakis, and Kickapoos known as the "British Band" crossed the Mississippi River into the U.S....

, and the Second Seminole War
Second Seminole War
The Second Seminole War, also known as the Florida War, was a conflict from 1835 to 1842 in Florida between various groups of Native Americans collectively known as Seminoles and the United States, part of a series of conflicts called the Seminole Wars...

.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Zachary Taylor'
Start a new discussion about 'Zachary Taylor'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Recent Discussions
Quotations

For more than half a century, during which kingdoms and empires have fallen, this Union has stood unshaken. The patriots who formed it have long since descended to the grave; yet still it remains, the proudest monument to their memory.

I can and shall yield to no call that does not come from the spontaneous action and free will of the nation at large and void of the slightest agency of my own. In no case can I permit myself to be a candidate of any part, or yield myself to any party schemes.

I have always done my duty. I am ready to die. My only regret is for the friends I leave behind me.

I have no private purpose to accomplish, no party objectives to build up, no enemies to punish—nothing to serve but my country.

In the discharge of duties my guide will be the Constitution, which I this day swear to preserve, protect, and defend.

It would be judicious to act with magnanimity towards a prostrate foe.

Tell him to go to hell.

His reply to Mexican General Santa Anna's demand for surrender.

The idea that I should become President seems to me too visionary to require a serious answer. It has never entered my head, nor is it likely to enter the head of any other person.

The power given by the Constitution to the Executive to interpose his veto is a high conservative power; but in my opinion it should never be exercised except in cases of clear violation of the Constitution, or manifest haste and want of due consideration by Congress.

Upon its preservation must depend our own happiness and that of countless generations to come. Whatever dangers may threaten it, I shall stand by it and maintain it in its integrity to the full extent of the obligations imposed and the power conferred upon me by the Constitution.

Referring to the United States.
Encyclopedia
Zachary Taylor was the 12th President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 (1849–1850) and an American military leader
Military history of the United States
The military history of the United States spans a period of over two centuries. During the course of those years, the United States evolved from a new nation fighting the British Empire for independence without a professional military , through a monumental American Civil War to the world's sole...

. Initially uninterested in politics, Taylor nonetheless ran as a Whig
Whig Party (United States)
The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from the early 1830s to the mid-1850s, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic...

 in the 1848 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1848
The United States presidential election of 1848 was an open race. President James K. Polk, having achieved all of his major objectives in one term and suffering from declining health that would take his life less than four months after leaving office, kept his promise not to seek re-election.The...

, defeating Lewis Cass
Lewis Cass
Lewis Cass was an American military officer and politician. During his long political career, Cass served as a governor of the Michigan Territory, an American ambassador, a U.S. Senator representing Michigan, and co-founder as well as first Masonic Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Michigan...

. Taylor was the last President to hold slaves while in office, and the second and also last Whig to win a presidential election.

Known as "Old Rough and Ready," Taylor had a forty-year military career in the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

, serving in the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

, the Black Hawk War
Black Hawk War
The Black Hawk War was a brief conflict fought in 1832 between the United States and Native Americans headed by Black Hawk, a Sauk leader. The war erupted soon after Black Hawk and a group of Sauks, Meskwakis, and Kickapoos known as the "British Band" crossed the Mississippi River into the U.S....

, and the Second Seminole War
Second Seminole War
The Second Seminole War, also known as the Florida War, was a conflict from 1835 to 1842 in Florida between various groups of Native Americans collectively known as Seminoles and the United States, part of a series of conflicts called the Seminole Wars...

. He achieved fame leading American troops to victory in the Battle of Palo Alto
Battle of Palo Alto
The Battle of Palo Alto was the first major battle of the Mexican-American War and was fought on May 8, 1846, on disputed ground five miles from the modern-day city of Brownsville, Texas...

 and the Battle of Monterrey
Battle of Monterrey
In the Battle of Monterrey during the Mexican-American War, General Pedro de Ampudia and the Mexican Army of the North was defeated by U.S...

 during the Mexican–American War
Mexican–American War
The Mexican–American War, also known as the First American Intervention, the Mexican War, or the U.S.–Mexican War, was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 in the wake of the 1845 U.S...

. As president, Taylor angered many Southerners by taking a moderate stance on the issue of slavery. He urged settlers in New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

 and California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 to bypass the territorial stage and draft constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

s for statehood
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

, setting the stage for the Compromise of 1850
Compromise of 1850
The Compromise of 1850 was a package of five bills, passed in September 1850, which defused a four-year confrontation between the slave states of the South and the free states of the North regarding the status of territories acquired during the Mexican-American War...

. Taylor died just 16 months into his term, the third shortest tenure of any President. He is thought to have died of gastroenteritis. Only Presidents William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States , an American military officer and politician, and the first president to die in office. He was 68 years, 23 days old when elected, the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980, and last President to be born before the...

 and James Garfield
James Garfield
James Abram Garfield served as the 20th President of the United States, after completing nine consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Garfield's accomplishments as President included a controversial resurgence of Presidential authority above Senatorial courtesy in executive...

 served less time. Taylor was succeeded by his Vice President
Vice President of the United States
The Vice President of the United States is the holder of a public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term...

, Millard Fillmore
Millard Fillmore
Millard Fillmore was the 13th President of the United States and the last member of the Whig Party to hold the office of president...

.

Early life


Zachary Taylor was born on a farm on November 24, 1784, in Orange County, Virginia
Orange County, Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 25,881 people, 10,150 households, and 7,470 families residing in the county. The population density was 76 people per square mile . There were 11,354 housing units at an average density of 33 per square mile...

, to a prominent family of planters of English ancestry. He was the third of five surviving sons in his family (a sixth died in infancy), and had three younger sisters. His mother was Sarah Dabney (Strother) Taylor, and his father, Richard Taylor
Richard Taylor (colonel)
Richard Lee Taylor was an officer in the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War. He was the father of the 12th President of the United States, Zachary Taylor....

, had served as a lieutenant colonel in the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

. Taylor was a descendant of Elder William Brewster
William Brewster (Pilgrim)
Elder William Brewster was a Mayflower passenger and a Pilgrim colonist leader and preacher.-Origins:Brewster was probably born at Doncaster, Yorkshire, England, circa 1566/1567, although no birth records have been found, and died at Plymouth, Massachusetts on April 10, 1644 around 9- or 10pm...

, the Pilgrim colonist leader and spiritual elder of the Plymouth Colony
Plymouth Colony
Plymouth Colony was an English colonial venture in North America from 1620 to 1691. The first settlement of the Plymouth Colony was at New Plymouth, a location previously surveyed and named by Captain John Smith. The settlement, which served as the capital of the colony, is today the modern town...

, and passenger aboard the Mayflower
Mayflower
The Mayflower was the ship that transported the English Separatists, better known as the Pilgrims, from a site near the Mayflower Steps in Plymouth, England, to Plymouth, Massachusetts, , in 1620...

 and one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact
Mayflower Compact
The Mayflower Compact was the first governing document of Plymouth Colony. It was written by the colonists, later together known to history as the Pilgrims, who crossed the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower...

; and Isaac Allerton Jr.
Isaac Allerton Jr.
Isaac Allerton Jr , the son of Mayflower Pilgrim Isaac Allerton and Fear Brewster, and was a Colonel, Merchant, and trader in Colonial America. He was first in business with his father in New England, and after his father's death, in Virginia...

, a Colonial
Colonial America
The colonial history of the United States covers the history from the start of European settlement and especially the history of the thirteen colonies of Britain until they declared independence in 1776. In the late 16th century, England, France, Spain and the Netherlands launched major...

 merchant and colonel who was the son of Mayflower
Mayflower
The Mayflower was the ship that transported the English Separatists, better known as the Pilgrims, from a site near the Mayflower Steps in Plymouth, England, to Plymouth, Massachusetts, , in 1620...

 Pilgrim Isaac Allerton
Isaac Allerton
Isaac Allerton was one of the original Pilgrim fathers who came on the Mayflower to settle the Plymouth Colony in 1620. Allerton is an ancestor to Presidents of the United States Zachary Taylor and Franklin D. Roosevelt....

 and Fear Brewster
Fear Brewster
Fear Allerton née Brewster was a woman in Colonial America. She was the third daughter of Mayflower Pilgrim William Brewster and his wife Mary, born in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England. She was named Fear because at the time of her birth, the Puritans were holding secret meetings and were under...

. Descended from the same lineage was Taylor's second cousin, future President James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

.

During his youth, Taylor lived on the frontier in Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky, and the county seat of Jefferson County. Since 2003, the city's borders have been coterminous with those of the county because of a city-county merger. The city's population at the 2010 census was 741,096...

, residing in a small cabin in a wood during most of his childhood, before moving to a brick house as a result of his family's increased prosperity. The rapid growth of Louisville was a boon for Taylor's father, who would come to own 10000 acres (40.5 km²) throughout Kentucky, town lots in Louisville, and twenty-six slaves by 1800. Since there were no formal schools on the Kentucky frontier, Taylor had a sporadic education growing up. Although one of his schoolmasters would recount Taylor as a quick learner, his early letters show a weak grasp of spelling and grammar, and his handwriting would later be described as "that of a near illiterate".

Military career



On May 3, 1808, Taylor joined the U.S. Army, receiving a commission as a first lieutenant
First Lieutenant
First lieutenant is a military rank and, in some forces, an appointment.The rank of lieutenant has different meanings in different military formations , but the majority of cases it is common for it to be sub-divided into a senior and junior rank...

 of the Seventh Infantry Regiment
7th Infantry Regiment (United States)
The United States Army's 7th Infantry Regiment, known as "The Cottenbalers" from an incident that occurred during the Battle of New Orleans, while under the command of Andrew Jackson, when soldiers of the 7th Infantry Regiment held positions behind a breastwork of bales of cotton during the...

. He was among the new officers commissioned by Congress in response to the Chesapeake–Leopard Affair
Chesapeake–Leopard Affair
The Chesapeake-Leopard Affair was a naval engagement which occurred off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia on June 22, 1807, between the British warship HMS Leopard and the American frigate, the USS Chesapeake, when the crew of the Leopard pursued, attacked and boarded the American frigate looking for...

. Taylor spent much of 1809 in the dilapidated camps of New Orleans and nearby Terre aux Boeufs. He returned to Louisville in May 1810, where he married Margaret Mackall Smith and purchased his first land in Jefferson County
Jefferson County
Jefferson County is the name of 25 counties and one parish in the United States:*Jefferson County, Alabama*Jefferson County, Arkansas*Jefferson County, Colorado*Jefferson County, Florida*Jefferson County, Georgia*Jefferson County, Idaho...

. He was promoted to captain in November 1810. His army duties were limited at this time, perhaps limited to recruiting, and he attended to his personal finances. Over the next several years, he would begin to amass slaves and a good deal of bank stock in Louisville. In July 1811 he was called to the Indiana Territory
Indiana Territory
The Territory of Indiana was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 4, 1800, until November 7, 1816, when the southern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Indiana....

, where he assumed control of Fort Knox after the commandant fled. In only a few weeks, he was able to restore order in the garrison, for which he was lauded by Governor William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States , an American military officer and politician, and the first president to die in office. He was 68 years, 23 days old when elected, the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980, and last President to be born before the...

.

During the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

, Taylor successfully defended Fort Harrison
Battle of Fort Harrison
The Siege of Fort Harrison was an engagement that lasted from 4 September–15 September 1812. The first American land victory during the War of 1812, it was won by an outnumbered United States force garrisoned inside the fort against a combined Native American force near modern Terre Haute,...

 in Indiana Territory
Indiana Territory
The Territory of Indiana was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 4, 1800, until November 7, 1816, when the southern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Indiana....

 from an attack by Indians
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 under the command of Shawnee
Shawnee
The Shawnee, Shaawanwaki, Shaawanooki and Shaawanowi lenaweeki, are an Algonquian-speaking people native to North America. Historically they inhabited the areas of Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Western Maryland, Kentucky, Indiana, and Pennsylvania...

 chief
Tribal chief
A tribal chief is the leader of a tribal society or chiefdom. Tribal societies with social stratification under a single leader emerged in the Neolithic period out of earlier tribal structures with little stratification, and they remained prevalent throughout the Iron Age.In the case of ...

 Tecumseh
Tecumseh
Tecumseh was a Native American leader of the Shawnee and a large tribal confederacy which opposed the United States during Tecumseh's War and the War of 1812...

. Taylor made a name for himself in the battle, and received a brevet
Brevet (military)
In many of the world's military establishments, brevet referred to a warrant authorizing a commissioned officer to hold a higher rank temporarily, but usually without receiving the pay of that higher rank except when actually serving in that role. An officer so promoted may be referred to as being...

 (temporary) promotion to the rank of major. Later that year he joined General Samuel Hopkins
Samuel Hopkins (congressman)
Samuel Hopkins was a U.S. Representative from Kentucky.Born in Albemarle County, Virginia, Hopkins was educated by private tutors...

 as an aide on two expeditions: the first into the Illinois Territory
Illinois Territory
The Territory of Illinois was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from March 1, 1809, until December 3, 1818, when the southern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Illinois. The area was earlier known as "Illinois Country" while under...

, and the second to the Tippecanoe
Battle of Tippecanoe
The Battle of Tippecanoe was fought on November 7, 1811, between United States forces led by Governor William Henry Harrison of the Indiana Territory and Native American warriors associated with the Shawnee leader Tecumseh. Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa were leaders of a confederacy of...

 battle site, where they were forced to retreat in the Battle of Wild Cat Creek. Taylor moved his family to Fort Knox after the violence subsided, but in spring 1814 he was called back into action under Brigadier General Benjamin Howard
Benjamin Howard (Missouri)
Benjamin Howard was a Congressman from Kentucky, governor of Missouri Territory and a brigadier general in the War of 1812....

. That October he built and commanded Fort Johnson
Fort Johnson
This article is about the War of 1812 fortification:*For the community in New York, see Fort Johnson, New York*For the Revolutionary War British garrison named Fort Johnson see Wilmington, North Carolina...

, the last toehold of the U.S. Army in the upper Mississippi River Valley, but upon Howard's death a few weeks later, he was forced to abandon it and retreat to Saint Louis
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...

. Reduced to the rank of captain when the war ended in 1814, he resigned from the army, but reentered it after he was commissioned again as a major a year later.

Taylor spent two years in charge of Fort Howard at the Green Bay
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Green Bay is a city in and the county seat of Brown County in the U.S. state of Wisconsin, located at the head of Green Bay, a sub-basin of Lake Michigan, at the mouth of the Fox River. It has an elevation of above sea level and is located north of Milwaukee. As of the 2010 United States Census,...

 settlement. He then returned to Louisville, where he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in April 1819 and dined with President James Monroe
James Monroe
James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States . Monroe was the last president who was a Founding Father of the United States, and the last president from the Virginia dynasty and the Republican Generation...

. In late 1821, Taylor took the 7th Infantry to Natchitoches, Louisiana
Natchitoches, Louisiana
Natchitoches is a city in and the parish seat of Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, United States. Established in 1714 by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis as part of French Louisiana, the community was named after the Natchitoches Indian tribe. The City of Natchitoches was first incorporated on February...

, on the Red River. On the orders of General Edmund P. Gaines
Edmund P. Gaines
Edmund Pendleton Gaines was a United States army officer who served with distinction during the War of 1812, the Seminole Wars and the Black Hawk War.-Early life:...

 they set out to locate a new post more convenient to the Sabine River frontier. By the following March, Taylor had established Fort Jesup
Fort Jesup
Fort Jesup, also known as Fort Jesup State Historic Site or Fort Jessup or Fort Jesup State Monument, was built in 1822, 22 miles west of Natchitoches, Louisiana, to protect the United States border with Spain and to return order to the Neutral Strip. Originally named Cantonment Jesup, the fort...

, at the Shield's Spring site southwest of Natchitoches. That November he transferred to Fort Robertson at Baton Rouge, where he remained until February 1824. He spent the next few years on recruiting duty, and in late 1826 traveled to Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, to sit on a committee which tried (with little success) to consolidate and improve military organization. In the meantime he acquired his first Louisiana plantation, and made Baton Rouge his home.

In May 1828 he was called back to action, spending a year in command of Fort Snelling on the northern Mississippi River, and another year at nearby Fort Crawford
Fort Crawford
Fort Crawford was an outpost of the United States Army located in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, during the 19th Century. The Second Fort Crawford Military Hospital was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1960....

. After some time on furlough, where he expanded his landholdings, Taylor was promoted to colonel of the 1st Infantry Regiment in April 1832. At that time, the Black Hawk War
Black Hawk War
The Black Hawk War was a brief conflict fought in 1832 between the United States and Native Americans headed by Black Hawk, a Sauk leader. The war erupted soon after Black Hawk and a group of Sauks, Meskwakis, and Kickapoos known as the "British Band" crossed the Mississippi River into the U.S....

 was beginning. Taylor played an active role under General Henry Atkinson in pursuing and, later, staving off Chief Black Hawk
Black Hawk
-People:* Black Hawk , a Sauk and Fox leader of the 19th century** The Black Hawk War, named after him.* Black Hawk , a Sans Arc Lakota artist of the 19th century* Antonga Black Hawk, a Ute leader known to whites as "Black Hawk"...

's forces throughout the summer. The end of the war in August 1832 signaled the end of Indian resistance to U.S. expansion in the area, and the following years were relatively quiet. During this period Taylor resisted the courtship of his 18-year-old daughter Sarah Knox Taylor and Lieutenant Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Finis Davis , also known as Jeff Davis, was an American statesman and leader of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, serving as President for its entire history. He was born in Kentucky to Samuel and Jane Davis...

: he respected Davis but did not approve of his daughter becoming a military wife. The two married in June 1835, but Sarah succumbed to malaria
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

 and died three months later.

The Second Seminole War
Second Seminole War
The Second Seminole War, also known as the Florida War, was a conflict from 1835 to 1842 in Florida between various groups of Native Americans collectively known as Seminoles and the United States, part of a series of conflicts called the Seminole Wars...

 was underway in 1837, when Taylor was directed to Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

. He defeated the Seminole Indians on the Christmas Day Battle of Lake Okeechobee
Battle of Lake Okeechobee
The Battle of Lake Okeechobee was one of the major battles of the Second Seminole War. It was fought between 800 troops of the 1st, 4th, and 6th Infantry Regiments and 132 Missouri Volunteers and between 380 and 480 Seminoles led by Billy Bowlegs, Abiaca and Alligator on December 25, 1837...

, among the largest U.S.–Indian battles of the nineteenth century. He was promoted to brigadier general in recognition of his success. In May 1838, Brig. Gen. Thomas Jesup
Thomas Jesup
Brigadier General Thomas Sidney Jesup, USA was an American military officer known as the "Father of the Modern Quartermaster Corps". He was born in Berkeley County, West Virginia. He began his military career in 1808, and served in the War of 1812, seeing action in the battles of Chippewa and...

 stepped down, placing Taylor in command of all American troops in Florida, a position he held for two years before his long-requested relief. He hoped to put an end to his "days [...] of ambition", but the reputation of "Old Rough and Ready" only continued to grow. Taylor spent a comfortable year touring the nation with his family and meeting with military leaders. During this period he began to display an interest in politics, corresponding with President William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States , an American military officer and politician, and the first president to die in office. He was 68 years, 23 days old when elected, the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980, and last President to be born before the...

. He was made commander of the Second Department of the Army's Western Division in May 1841. This was a sizable territory running from the Mississippi River westward, south of the 37th parallel north
37th parallel north
The 37th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 37 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Africa, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

. Stationed in Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

, Taylor enjoyed several uneventful years, spending as much time attending to his land speculation as to military matters.

Mexican–American War




In anticipation of the annexation of the Republic of Texas
Republic of Texas
The Republic of Texas was an independent nation in North America, bordering the United States and Mexico, that existed from 1836 to 1846.Formed as a break-away republic from Mexico by the Texas Revolution, the state claimed borders that encompassed an area that included all of the present U.S...

, Taylor was sent in April 1844 to Fort Jesup in Louisiana. He was ordered to guard against any attempts by Mexico to reclaim the territory, which they had lost in 1836. He remained until July 1845, when annexation became imminent, and President James K. Polk
James K. Polk
James Knox Polk was the 11th President of the United States . Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the 17th Speaker of the House of Representatives and the 12th Governor of Tennessee...

 directed him to deploy into disputed territory on the Texas–Mexico border, "on or near the Rio Grande
Rio Grande
The Rio Grande is a river that flows from southwestern Colorado in the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way it forms part of the Mexico – United States border. Its length varies as its course changes...

". Taylor chose a spot at Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi, Texas
Corpus Christi is a coastal city in the South Texas region of the U.S. state of Texas. The county seat of Nueces County, it also extends into Aransas, Kleberg, and San Patricio counties. The MSA population in 2008 was 416,376. The population was 305,215 at the 2010 census making it the...

, and his Army of Occupation
Army of Occupation (Mexico)
The Army of Occupation was the name of the U.S. Army commanded by Zachary Taylor during the Mexican-American War.-Creation:On April 23, 1845 General Zachary Taylor was appointed to command the 1st Military District along the Texas/Louisiana border. On April 27 Taylor received orders to move with a...

 encamped there until the following spring in anticipation of a Mexican attack.

Taylor's men advanced to the Rio Grande in March 1846. Polk's attempts to negotiate with Mexico had failed, and war appeared imminent. Violence broke out several weeks later, when some of Captain Seth B. Thornton's men were attacked by Mexican forces near the river. Polk, learning of the Thornton Affair
Thornton Affair
The Thornton Affair, also known as the Thornton Skirmish, Thornton's Defeat, or Rancho Carricitos was a battle between the military forces of the United States and Mexico. It served as the primary justification for U.S. President James K. Polk's declaration of war against Mexico in 1846,...

, told Congress in May that a war between Mexico and the United States had begun. That same month, Taylor commanded American forces at the Battle of Palo Alto
Battle of Palo Alto
The Battle of Palo Alto was the first major battle of the Mexican-American War and was fought on May 8, 1846, on disputed ground five miles from the modern-day city of Brownsville, Texas...

 and the nearby Battle of Resaca de la Palma
Battle of Resaca de la Palma
At the Battle of Resaca de la Palma, one of the early engagements of the Mexican-American War,United States General Zachary Taylor engaged the retreating forces of the Mexican Ejército del Norte under General Mariano Arista on May 9, 1846.-Background:During the night of May 8, following...

, defeating the Mexican forces which greatly outnumbered his own. These victories made him a popular hero, and within weeks he received a brevet promotion to major general and a formal commendation from Congress. The national press compared him to George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 and Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

, both generals who had ascended to the presidency, although Taylor denied any interest in running for office. "Such an idea never entered my head," he remarked in a letter, "nor is it likely to enter the head of any sane person."

In September, Taylor was able to inflict heavy casualties upon the Mexican defenders at the Battle of Monterrey
Battle of Monterrey
In the Battle of Monterrey during the Mexican-American War, General Pedro de Ampudia and the Mexican Army of the North was defeated by U.S...

. The city of Monterrey
Monterrey
Monterrey , is the capital city of the northeastern state of Nuevo León in the country of Mexico. The city is anchor to the third-largest metropolitan area in Mexico and is ranked as the ninth-largest city in the nation. Monterrey serves as a commercial center in the north of the country and is the...

 was considered "un-destroyable". He was criticized for not ensuring the Mexican army that surrendered at Monterrey disbanded. Afterwards, half of Taylor's army was ordered to join General Winfield Scott
Winfield Scott
Winfield Scott was a United States Army general, and unsuccessful presidential candidate of the Whig Party in 1852....

's soldiers as they besieged Veracruz
Siege of Veracruz
The Battle of Veracruz was a 20-day siege of the key Mexican beachhead seaport of Veracruz, during the Mexican-American War. Lasting from 9-29 March 1847, it began with the first large-scale amphibious assault conducted by United States military forces, and ended with the surrender and occupation...

. Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón , often known as Santa Anna or López de Santa Anna, known as "the Napoleon of the West," was a Mexican political leader, general, and president who greatly influenced early Mexican and Spanish politics and government...

 discovered, through a letter written by Scott to Taylor that had been intercepted by the Mexicans, that Taylor had only 6,000 men, many of whom were not regular army
Regular army
A regular army consists of the permanent force of a country's army that is maintained under arms during peacetime.Countries that use the term include:*Australian Army*British Army*Canadian Forces, specifically "Regular Force"*Egyptian army*Indian Army...

 soldiers, and resolved to defeat him. Santa Anna attacked Taylor with 20,000 men at the Battle of Buena Vista
Battle of Buena Vista
The Battle of Buena Vista , also known as the Battle of Angostura, saw the United States Army use artillery to repulse the much larger Mexican army in the Mexican-American War...

 in February 1847, inflicting 672 American casualties at a cost of 1,800 Mexican. As a result, Santa Anna left the field of battle.

Election of 1848


In his capacity as a career officer, Taylor had never reportedly revealed his political beliefs before 1848, nor voted before that time. He thought of himself as an independent
Independent (voter)
An independent voter, those who register as an unaffiliated voter in the United States, is a voter of a democratic country who does not align him- or herself with a political party...

, believing in a strong and sound banking system for the country, and thought that Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 should not have allowed the Second Bank of the United States
Second Bank of the United States
The Second Bank of the United States was chartered in 1816, five years after the First Bank of the United States lost its own charter. The Second Bank of the United States was initially headquartered in Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia, the same as the First Bank, and had branches throughout the...

 to collapse in 1836. He believed it was impractical to talk about expanding slavery into the western areas of the United States, as he concluded that neither cotton
Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

 nor sugar
Sugar
Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

 (both were produced in great quantities as a result of slavery) could be easily grown there through a plantation economy
Plantation economy
A plantation economy is an economy which is based on agricultural mass production, usually of a few staple products grown on large farms called plantations. Plantation economies rely on the export of cash crops as a source of income...

. He was also a firm nationalist, and due to his experience of seeing many people die as a result of warfare, he believed that secession
Secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

 was not a good way to resolve national problems. Taylor, although he did not agree with their stand on protective tariffs and expensive internal improvements
Internal improvements
Internal improvements is the term used historically in the United States for public works from the end of the American Revolution through much of the 19th century, mainly for the creation of a transportation infrastructure: roads, turnpikes, canals, harbors and navigation improvements...

, aligned himself with Whig Party
Whig Party (United States)
The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from the early 1830s to the mid-1850s, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic...

 governing policies; the President should not be able to veto
Veto
A veto, Latin for "I forbid", is the power of an officer of the state to unilaterally stop an official action, especially enactment of a piece of legislation...

 a law, unless that law was against the Constitution of the United States; that the office should not interfere with Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

, and that the power of collective decision-making, as well as the Cabinet
United States Cabinet
The Cabinet of the United States is composed of the most senior appointed officers of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States, which are generally the heads of the federal executive departments...

, should be strong.

After the American victory at Buena Vista, "Old Rough and Ready" political clubs were formed which supported Taylor for President, although no one knew for sure what his political beliefs were. Taylor declared, as the 1848 Whig Party convention approached, that he had always been a Whig in principle, but he did consider himself a Jeffersonian-Democrat
Jeffersonian democracy
Jeffersonian Democracy, so named after its leading advocate Thomas Jefferson, is a term used to describe one of two dominant political outlooks and movements in the United States from the 1790s to the 1820s. The term was commonly used to refer to the Democratic-Republican Party which Jefferson...

. Many southerners believed that Taylor supported slavery, and its expansion into the new territory absorbed from Mexico, and some were angered when Taylor suggested that if he were elected President he would not veto the Wilmot Proviso
Wilmot Proviso
The Wilmot Proviso, one of the major events leading to the Civil War, would have banned slavery in any territory to be acquired from Mexico in the Mexican War or in the future, including the area later known as the Mexican Cession, but which some proponents construed to also include the disputed...

, which proposed against such an expansion. This position did not enhance his support from activist antislavery elements in the Northern United States
Northern United States
Northern United States, also sometimes the North, may refer to:* A particular grouping of states or regions of the United States of America. The United States Census Bureau divides some of the northernmost United States into the Midwest Region and the Northeast Region...

, as these wanted Taylor to speak out strongly in support of the Proviso, not simply fail to veto it. Most abolitionists did not support Taylor, since he was a slave-owner. Many southerners also knew that Taylor supported states' rights, and was opposed to protective tariffs and government spending for internal improvements. The Whigs hoped that he put the federal union of the United States above all else.

Taylor received the Whig nomination for President in 1848. Millard Fillmore
Millard Fillmore
Millard Fillmore was the 13th President of the United States and the last member of the Whig Party to hold the office of president...

 of Cayuga County
Cayuga County, New York
Cayuga County is a county located in the U.S. state of New York. It was named for one of the tribes of Indians in the Iroquois Confederation. Its county seat is Auburn.- History :...

, New York was chosen as the Vice Presidential nominee. His homespun ways and his status as a war hero were political assets. Taylor defeated Lewis Cass
Lewis Cass
Lewis Cass was an American military officer and politician. During his long political career, Cass served as a governor of the Michigan Territory, an American ambassador, a U.S. Senator representing Michigan, and co-founder as well as first Masonic Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Michigan...

, the Democratic
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 candidate, and Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States . Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President and the tenth Secretary of State, under Andrew Jackson ....

, the Free Soil candidate. Taylor was the last Southerner to be elected president until Lyndon Johnson,Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States . As Vice-President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following the latter's assassination. Johnson then presided over the initial and contentious Reconstruction era of the United States following the American...

 became president through succession rather than election. Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 was born in Virginia, but his home and political base were in New Jersey.
116 years later in 1964.

Taylor ignored the Whig platform, as historian Michael Holt explains:

Policies



Although Taylor had subscribed to Whig principles of legislative leadership, he was not inclined to be a puppet of Whig leaders in Congress. He ran his administration in the same rule-of-thumb fashion with which he had fought Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

.

Under Taylor's administration, the United States Department of the Interior
United States Department of the Interior
The United States Department of the Interior is the United States federal executive department of the U.S. government responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land and natural resources, and the administration of programs relating to Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native...

 was organized, although the legislation authorizing the Department had been approved on President Polk's last day in office. He appointed former Treasury Secretary Thomas Ewing
Thomas Ewing
Thomas Ewing, Sr. was a National Republican and Whig politician from Ohio. He served in the U.S. Senate as well as serving as the Secretary of the Treasury and the first Secretary of the Interior.-Biography:...

 the first Secretary of the Interior
United States Secretary of the Interior
The United States Secretary of the Interior is the head of the United States Department of the Interior.The US Department of the Interior should not be confused with the concept of Ministries of the Interior as used in other countries...

.

Slavery


At the time Taylor became President, the issue of slavery in the western territories of the United States had come to dominate American political discourse, and debate between extreme pro and antislavery viewpoints had become very pronounced. In 1849, he advised the residents of California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, including the Mormons
Mormons
The Mormons are a religious and cultural group related to Mormonism, a religion started by Joseph Smith during the American Second Great Awakening. A vast majority of Mormons are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while a minority are members of other independent churches....

 around Salt Lake
Salt Lake
For a lake containing a high concentration of salt, see salt lake.More specifically, Salt Lake may refer to:- Cities, counties, towns etc. :* Salt Lake, Hawaii, a neighborhood on the island of Oahu...

, and the residents of New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

 to create state constitutions and apply for statehood in December when Congress met. He correctly predicted that these constitutions would state against slavery in California and New Mexico. In December 1849, and January 1850, Taylor told Congress that it should allow them to become states, once their constitutions arrived in Washington D.C. He also urged that there should not be an attempt to develop territorial governments for the two future states, since that might increase tension between pro and antislavery activists regarding a congressional prohibition of slavery in the territories.

Foreign affairs


Taylor and his Secretary of State, John M. Clayton
John M. Clayton
John Middleton Clayton was an American lawyer and politician from Delaware. He was a member of the Whig Party who served in the Delaware General Assembly, and as U.S. Senator from Delaware and U.S. Secretary of State....

, lacked much experience in foreign affairs before Taylor assumed the presidency, and Taylor was not directly involved in diplomacy
Diplomacy
Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states...

 or the development of American foreign policies. Taylor's administration attempted to stop a filibustering expedition
Filibuster (military)
A filibuster, or freebooter, is someone who engages in an unauthorized military expedition into a foreign country to foment or support a revolution...

 against Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, argued with France and Portugal over reparation
Reparation (legal)
In jurisprudence, reparation is replenishment of a previously inflicted loss by the criminal to the victim. Monetary restitution is a common form of reparation...

 disputes owed to the US, and supported German liberals during the revolutions of 1848
Revolutions of 1848
The European Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Spring of Nations, Springtime of the Peoples or the Year of Revolution, were a series of political upheavals throughout Europe in 1848. It was the first Europe-wide collapse of traditional authority, but within a year reactionary...

. The administration confronted Spain, which had arrested several Americans on the charge of piracy, and assisted the United Kingdom's search for a team of British
British people
The British are citizens of the United Kingdom, of the Isle of Man, any of the Channel Islands, or of any of the British overseas territories, and their descendants...

 explorers who had gotten lost in the Arctic
Arctic
The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

. The United States had planned to construct a canal
Canal
Canals are man-made channels for water. There are two types of canal:#Waterways: navigable transportation canals used for carrying ships and boats shipping goods and conveying people, further subdivided into two kinds:...

 across Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

, but the British opposed the idea, arguing that they held a special status in neighboring Honduras
Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

. In what was described by one source as Taylor's "most important foreign policy move", delicate negotiations were performed with Britain, and a "landmark agreement" was reached called the Clayton–Bulwer Treaty. Both Britain and the United States agreed not to claim control of any canal that might be built in Nicaragua. The treaty is considered to have been an important step in the development of an Anglo-American alliance, and "effectively weakened U.S. commitment to Manifest Destiny as a formal policy while recognizing the supremacy of U.S. interests in Central America". The creation of the treaty was Taylor's last act of state.

Compromise of 1850



The slavery issue dominated Taylor's short term. Although he owned slaves on his plantation
Plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...

 in Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, he took a moderate stance on the territorial expansion of slavery, angering fellow Southerners. He told them that if necessary to enforce the laws, he personally would lead the Army. Persons "taken in rebellion against the Union, he would hang ... with less reluctance than he had hanged deserters and spies in Mexico." He never wavered. Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

 then proposed a complex Compromise of 1850
Compromise of 1850
The Compromise of 1850 was a package of five bills, passed in September 1850, which defused a four-year confrontation between the slave states of the South and the free states of the North regarding the status of territories acquired during the Mexican-American War...

. Taylor died as it was being debated. (The Clay version failed but another version did pass under the new president, Millard Fillmore
Millard Fillmore
Millard Fillmore was the 13th President of the United States and the last member of the Whig Party to hold the office of president...

.)

Judicial appointments

Judicial Appointments
Court Name Term
W.D. La.
United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana
The United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana is a United States federal court with jurisdiction over approximately two thirds of the state of Louisiana, with courts in Alexandria, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe and Shreveport...

Henry Boyce
Henry Boyce
Henry Boyce was a United States federal judge.Born in Derry, Ireland, Boyce read law to enter the bar in 1820. He began a private practice in Bayou Leche, Louisiana by 1824, and was then in Alexandria, Louisiana from 1824 to 1828. He was a planter in Rapides Parish, Louisiana from 1828,...

Recess appointment
Recess appointment
A recess appointment is the appointment, by the President of the United States, of a senior federal official while the U.S. Senate is in recess. The U.S. Constitution requires that the most senior federal officers must be confirmed by the Senate before assuming office, but while the Senate is in...

; formally nominated on December 21, 1849, confirmed by the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 on August 2, 1850, and received commission on August 2, 1850.
D. Ill. Thomas Drummond
Thomas Drummond (judge)
Thomas Drummond , was a United States federal judge.Born in Bristol Mills, Maine, Drummond graduated from Bowdoin College in 1830, and read law to enter the Bar in Philadelphia in 1833. He had a private practice in Galena, Illinois, from 1835 to 1850...

N.D. Ala.
United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama
The United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama is the Federal district court whose jurisdiction comprises the following counties: Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, Cullman, De Kalb, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar,...


M.D. Ala.
United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama
The United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama is the Federal district court whose jurisdiction comprises the following counties: Autauga, Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Chambers, Chilton, Coffee, Coosa, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Elmore, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Lee, Lowndes,...


S.D. Ala.
United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama
The United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama is the Federal district court whose jurisdiction comprises the following counties: Baldwin, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Dallas, Escambia, Hale, Marengo, Mobile, Monroe, Perry, Washington, and Wilcox...

John Gayle
D. Ark. Daniel Ringo
Daniel Ringo
Daniel Ringo was a United States federal judge in Arkansas who sided with the Confederacy during the American Civil War.-Biography:Born in Cross Plains, Kentucky, Ringo read law to enter the Bar in 1830...

Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 21, 1849, confirmed by the United States Senate on June 10, 1850, and received commission on June 10, 1850.

Taylor appointed four federal judges, all to United States district court
United States district court
The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States...

s. Due in part to the length of his presidency, he is one of only four presidents who did not have an opportunity to nominate a judge to serve on the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

.

Death



The true cause of Zachary Taylor's premature death is not fully established. On July 4, 1850, after watching a groundbreaking ceremony for the Washington Monument
Washington Monument
The Washington Monument is an obelisk near the west end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate the first U.S. president, General George Washington...

 during the Independence Day
Independence Day (United States)
Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain...

 celebration, Taylor sought refuge from the oppressive heat by consuming copious amounts of iced water, cold milk, and cherries. Within several days he became severely ill with an unknown digestive ailment, and it became clear to him that he was approaching death. At about 10 o'clock in the morning on July 9, Taylor called his wife to him and asked her not to weep, saying: "I have always done my duty, I am ready to die. My only regret is for the friends I leave behind me." He died within the hour. Contemporary reports listed the cause of death as "bilious diarrhoea, or a bilious cholera".

Taylor was interred in the Public Vault (built in 1835 to hold remains of notables until either the grave site could be prepared or transportation arranged to another city) of the Congressional Cemetery
Congressional Cemetery
The Congressional Cemetery is a historic cemetery located at 1801 E Street, SE, in Washington, D.C., on the west bank of the Anacostia River. It is the final resting place of thousands of individuals who helped form the nation and the city of Washington in the early 19th century. Many members of...

 in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 from July 13, 1850 to October 25, 1850. Taylor was then transported to the Taylor Family plot where his parents are buried, on the old Taylor homestead estate known as 'Springfield'. In 1883, the Commonwealth of Kentucky placed a fifty foot monument near Zachary Taylor's grave. It is topped by a life-sized statue of Zachary Taylor. By the 1920s, the Taylor family initiated the effort to turn the Taylor burial grounds into a national cemetery. The Commonwealth of Kentucky donated two pieces of land for the project, turning the half-acre Taylor family cemetery into 16 acres (64,749.8 m²). There, buried in the Taylor family plot, Zachary Taylor and his wife (who died in 1852) remained, until he and his wife were moved to their final resting place on May 6, 1926 in the newly commissioned Taylor mausoleum (made of limestone with a granite base, with a marble interior), nearby. Today, President Taylor and wife Margaret rest in the mausoleum in Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky, and the county seat of Jefferson County. Since 2003, the city's borders have been coterminous with those of the county because of a city-county merger. The city's population at the 2010 census was 741,096...

, at what is now the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery
Zachary Taylor National Cemetery
Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, located at 4701 Brownsboro Road , in northeast Louisville, Kentucky is a national cemetery where former President of the United States Zachary Taylor and his first lady Margaret Taylor are buried. Zachary Taylor National Cemetery was listed in the National...

.

Exhumation of 1991


In the late 1980s, college professor and author Clara Rising hypothesized that Taylor was murdered by poison and was able to convince Taylor's closest living relative and the Coroner
Coroner
A coroner is a government official who* Investigates human deaths* Determines cause of death* Issues death certificates* Maintains death records* Responds to deaths in mass disasters* Identifies unknown dead* Other functions depending on local laws...

 of Jefferson County, Kentucky
Jefferson County, Kentucky
As of the census of 2000, there were 693,604 people, 287,012 households, and 183,113 families residing in the county. The population density was . There were 305,835 housing units at an average density of...

, to order an exhumation. On June 17, 1991, Taylor's remains were exhumed and transported to the Office of the Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 Chief Medical Examiner, where radiological studies were conducted and samples of hair, fingernail and other tissues were removed. The remains were then returned to the cemetery and received appropriate honors at re-interment. He was re-interred in the same mausoleum he had been interred in since 1926. A monolith was later constructed next to the mausoleum. Neutron activation analysis
Neutron activation analysis
In chemistry, neutron activation analysis is a nuclear process used for determining the concentrations of elements in a vast amount of materials. NAA allows discrete sampling of elements as it disregards the chemical form of a sample, and focuses solely on its nucleus. The method is based on...

 conducted at Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a multiprogram science and technology national laboratory managed for the United States Department of Energy by UT-Battelle. ORNL is the DOE's largest science and energy laboratory. ORNL is located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, near Knoxville...

 revealed arsenic
Arsenic
Arsenic is a chemical element with the symbol As, atomic number 33 and relative atomic mass 74.92. Arsenic occurs in many minerals, usually in conjunction with sulfur and metals, and also as a pure elemental crystal. It was first documented by Albertus Magnus in 1250.Arsenic is a metalloid...

 levels several hundred times lower than they would have been if Taylor had been poisoned. Rather, it was concluded that on a hot July day Taylor had attempted to cool himself with large amounts of cherries and iced milk. "In the unhealthy climate of Washington, with its open sewers and flies, Taylor came down with cholera morbus, or acute gastroenteritis
Gastroenteritis
Gastroenteritis is marked by severe inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract involving both the stomach and small intestine resulting in acute diarrhea and vomiting. It can be transferred by contact with contaminated food and water...

 as it is now called." He might have recovered, Samuel Eliot Morison
Samuel Eliot Morison
Samuel Eliot Morison, Rear Admiral, United States Naval Reserve was an American historian noted for his works of maritime history that were both authoritative and highly readable. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1912, and taught history at the university for 40 years...

 felt, but his doctors "drugged him with ipecac
Syrup of ipecac
Syrup of ipecac , commonly referred to as ipecac, is derived from the dried rhizome and roots of the ipecacuanha plant, and is a well known emetic .-Preparation:...

, calomel
Mercury(I) chloride
Mercury chloride is the chemical compound with the formula Hg2Cl2. Also known as calomel or mercurous chloride, this dense white or yellowish-white, odorless solid is the principal example of a mercury compound...

, opium
Opium
Opium is the dried latex obtained from the opium poppy . Opium contains up to 12% morphine, an alkaloid, which is frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade. The latex also includes codeine and non-narcotic alkaloids such as papaverine, thebaine and noscapine...

 and quinine
Quinine
Quinine is a natural white crystalline alkaloid having antipyretic , antimalarial, analgesic , anti-inflammatory properties and a bitter taste. It is a stereoisomer of quinidine which, unlike quinine, is an anti-arrhythmic...

 (at 40 grains a whack), and bled and blistered him too. On July 9, he died."

Assassination theories


Despite these findings, assassination theories have not been entirely put to rest. Michael Parenti
Michael Parenti
Michael Parenti is an award-winning, internationally known American political scientist, historian, and culture critic who has been writing on a wide range of both scholarly and popular subjects for over forty years. He has taught at several universities and colleges and has been a frequent guest...

 devoted a chapter in his 1999 book History as Mystery to "The Strange Death of Zachary Taylor," speculating that Taylor was assassinated because of his moderate stance on the expansion of slavery – and that his autopsy was botched. It is suspected that Taylor was deliberately assassinated by arsenic poisoning from one of the citizen-provided dishes he sampled during the Independence Day celebration.
Other dissenting historians claim as suspicious the facts that there were no eyewitness accounts of Taylor consuming cherries and milk on that day; that there are no confirmed cholera outbreaks in Washington in 1850; that Taylor's symptoms were not those of typhoid (spread by flies); that Taylor was not given the aforementioned drugs until he was already deathly sick, on the third day of his acute illness; and that Taylor was not bled until near death on the fifth and last day of his illness.

Marriage and family


In 1810, Taylor wed Margaret Smith
Margaret Taylor
Margaret Mackall Smith "Peggy" Taylor , wife of Zachary Taylor, was First Lady of the United States from 1849 to 1850.-Early Life and Marriage:...

, and they would have six children of whom the only son, Richard
Richard Taylor (general)
Richard Taylor was a Confederate general in the American Civil War. He was the son of United States President Zachary Taylor and First Lady Margaret Taylor.-Early life:...

, would become a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army. One of Taylor's daughters, Sarah Knox Taylor
Sarah Knox Taylor
Sarah Knox Taylor was the daughter of General Zachary Taylor, later President of the United States and Margaret Taylor, and was married to Jefferson Davis before he became President of the Confederate States of America.While living at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin where her father commanded Fort...

, decided to marry in 1835 Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Finis Davis , also known as Jeff Davis, was an American statesman and leader of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, serving as President for its entire history. He was born in Kentucky to Samuel and Jane Davis...

, the future President of the Confederate States of America
President of the Confederate States of America
The President of the Confederate States of America was the Head of State and Head of Government of the Confederate States of America, which was formed from the states which declared their secession from the United States, thus precipitating the American Civil War. The only person to hold the...

, who at that time was a lieutenant. Taylor did not wish Sarah to marry him, and Taylor and Davis would not be reconciled until 1847 at the Battle of Buena Vista
Battle of Buena Vista
The Battle of Buena Vista , also known as the Battle of Angostura, saw the United States Army use artillery to repulse the much larger Mexican army in the Mexican-American War...

, where Davis distinguished himself as a colonel. Sarah had died in 1835, three months into the marriage. Another of Taylor's daughters, Margaret Anne, died of liver failure at age 33. Around 1841, Aria Taylor established a home at Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Baton Rouge is the capital of the U.S. state of Louisiana. It is located in East Baton Rouge Parish and is the second-largest city in the state.Baton Rouge is a major industrial, petrochemical, medical, and research center of the American South...

, and gained a large plantation
Plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...

 and a great number of slaves
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

.

Surviving family

  • Taylor's son, Richard
    Richard Taylor (general)
    Richard Taylor was a Confederate general in the American Civil War. He was the son of United States President Zachary Taylor and First Lady Margaret Taylor.-Early life:...

    , became a Confederate
    Confederate States Army
    The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

     Lieutenant General, while his daughter, Sarah Knox Taylor
    Sarah Knox Taylor
    Sarah Knox Taylor was the daughter of General Zachary Taylor, later President of the United States and Margaret Taylor, and was married to Jefferson Davis before he became President of the Confederate States of America.While living at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin where her father commanded Fort...

     (1814–1835), married future Confederate President Jefferson Davis
    Jefferson Davis
    Jefferson Finis Davis , also known as Jeff Davis, was an American statesman and leader of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, serving as President for its entire history. He was born in Kentucky to Samuel and Jane Davis...

     three months before her death of malaria
    Malaria
    Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

    . Richard Taylor's granddaughter, Anita Vincent Stauffer, married into the McIlheney family of Avery Island, Louisiana
    Louisiana
    Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

    .
  • Taylor's brother, Joseph Pannell Taylor
    Joseph Pannell Taylor
    Joseph Pannell Taylor was a career United States Army officer and Union general in the American Civil War.-Early life:...

    , was a Brigadier General in the Union Army
    Union Army
    The Union Army was the land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War. It was also known as the Federal Army, the U.S. Army, the Northern Army and the National Army...

     during the Civil War
    American Civil War
    The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

    . (Joseph P. Taylor's son Joseph Hancock Taylor was a US Colonel in the Civil War and was also a son-in-law of Union General Montgomery C. Meigs
    Montgomery C. Meigs
    Montgomery Cunningham Meigs was a career United States Army officer, civil engineer, construction engineer for a number of facilities in Washington, D.C., and Quartermaster General of the U.S. Army during and after the American Civil War....

    .)
  • Taylor's niece, Emily Ellison Taylor, was the wife of Confederate General Lafayette McLaws
    Lafayette McLaws
    Lafayette McLaws was a United States Army officer and a Confederate general in the American Civil War.-Early life:...

    .
  • Ann Taylor's son, John Taylor Wood
    John Taylor Wood
    John Taylor Wood was an officer in the United States Navy who became a "leading Confederate naval hero" as a captain in the Confederate Navy during the American Civil War.-Biography:...

    , a U.S. Navy officer, defected to the Confederate
    Confederate States of America
    The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

     side and later fled to Canada during the Civil War; his great-grandson, Zachary Taylor Wood
    Zachary Taylor Wood
    Zachary Taylor Wood, CMG was acting Commissioner of the North-West Mounted Police and Commissioner of the Yukon Territory of Canada.-Early life:Born in Annapolis Naval Academy in 1860, where his father John Taylor Wood was stationed...

    , was Acting RCMP Commissioner, great-grandson Lieutenant Charles Carroll Wood
    Charles Carroll Wood
    Lieutenant Charles Carroll Wood was a Canadian soldier, who became famous because he was the first Canadian to die in the Second Boer War. He is the namesake of the Chaswood, Nova Scotia....

     died from wounds suffered during the Anglo Boer War
    Boer War
    The Boer Wars were two wars fought between the British Empire and the two independent Boer republics, the Oranje Vrijstaat and the Republiek van Transvaal ....

    , great-great-grandson Stuart Taylor Wood was Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
    Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
    Commissioner is the highest rank of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police , and of its predecessor agencies, the North-West Mounted Police and the Royal Northwest Mounted Police . The Commissioner reports directly to the Minister of Public Safety.The Commissioner of RCMP is the Principal Commander of...

     and great-great-great-grandsons (Cst. Herschel Wood and Supt. (Ret) John Taylor Wood served in the RCMP.

Legacy


It is contended that Taylor was not President long enough to cause a substantial impact on the office of the Presidency, or the United States, and that he is not remembered as a great President. The majority of historians believe that Taylor was too nonpolitical, considering he was in office at a time when being involved in politics required close ties with political operatives. The Clayton–Bulwer Treaty is "recognized as an important step in [the] scaling down [of] the nation's commitment to Manifest Destiny
Manifest Destiny
Manifest Destiny was the 19th century American belief that the United States was destined to expand across the continent. It was used by Democrat-Republicans in the 1840s to justify the war with Mexico; the concept was denounced by Whigs, and fell into disuse after the mid-19th century.Advocates of...

 as a policy."

Considering the shortness of his presidency, Taylor's most notable legacy may be that he was the last U.S. President to own slaves while holding the Office of the President of the United States, in 1850.

Commemoration


The US Post Office released the first postage stamp issue honoring Zachary Taylor on June 21, 1875, a full 25 years after his death. In contrast, Lincoln first appeared on US postage stamps in 1866, only one year after his death while James Garfield would be honored with a postage stamp only seven months after his assassination. Sixty three years later, in 1938 Taylor would appear again on a US Postage stamp, this time on the 12-cent Presidential Issue of 1938
Presidential Issue
The Presidential Issue, nicknamed the Prexies by collectors, is the series of definitive postage stamps issued in the United States in 1938, featuring all 29 U.S. presidents from George Washington through Calvin Coolidge...

. Taylor's last appearance (to date, 2010) on a US postage stamp occurred in 1986 when he was honored on the AMERIPEX presidential issue. After Washington, Jefferson, Jackson and Lincoln, Zachary Taylor is the fifth American President to appear on US postage. In all there are three different postage issues that have honored Taylor.

Taylor became a military namesake after his death, for such sites as Camp Taylor in Kentucky and Fort Taylor
Fort Zachary Taylor
The Fort Zachary Taylor State Historic Site, better known simply as Fort Taylor, , is a Florida State Park and National Historic Landmark centered on a Civil War-era fort located near the southern tip of Key West, Florida....

 in Florida. The SS Zachary Taylor
SS Zachary Taylor
SS Zachary Taylor was a Liberty ship built in the United States during World War II. She was named after Zachary Taylor, the twelfth President of the United States....

, a World War II Liberty ship
Liberty ship
Liberty ships were cargo ships built in the United States during World War II. Though British in conception, they were adapted by the U.S. as they were cheap and quick to build, and came to symbolize U.S. wartime industrial output. Based on vessels ordered by Britain to replace ships torpedoed by...

, was also named in his honor. In 1995, he was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame
Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame
The Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield, Louisiana, highlights the careers of more than a hundred of the state’s leading politicians and political journalists. Because three governors, Huey P. Long, Jr., Oscar K...

 in Winnfield, Louisiana
Winnfield, Louisiana
Winnfield is a city in and the parish seat of Winn Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 5,749 at the 2000 census. It has long been associated with the Long faction of the Louisiana Democratic Party and was home to three governors of Louisiana.-Geography:Winnfield is located at ...

, the honor bestowed on the only U.S. President to have lived in Louisiana.

See also



Ancestors





Further reading


General biographies |ref=Hamilton-1}} |ref=Hamilton-2}}
Political history

Genealogy

External links




>