|12th President of the United States|
March 4, 1849[a] – July 9, 1850
|Vice President||Millard Fillmore|
|Preceded by||James K. Polk|
|Succeeded by||Millard Fillmore|
|Born||November 24, 1784|
Barboursville, Virginia, U.S.
|Died||July 9, 1850 (aged 65)|
|Resting place||Zachary Taylor National Cemetery|
|Children||6, including Sarah, Mary, and Richard|
|Branch/service||United States Army|
|Years of service||1808–1849|
|Commands||Army of Occupation|
Zachary Taylor (November 24, 1784 – July 9, 1850) was an American military leader who served as the 12th president of the United States from 1849 until his death in 1850. Taylor previously was a career officer in the United States Army, rising to the rank of major general and becoming a national hero as a result of his victories in the Mexican–American War. As a result, he won election to the White House despite his vague political beliefs. His top priority as president was preserving the Union. He died 16 months into his term, having made no progress on the most divisive issue in Congress and the nation: slavery.
Taylor was born into a prominent family of plantation owners who moved westward from Virginia to Louisville, Kentucky, in his youth; he was the last president born before the adoption of the Constitution. He was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army in 1808 and made a name for himself as a captain in the War of 1812. He climbed the ranks of the military, establishing military forts along the Mississippi River and entering the Black Hawk War as a colonel in 1832. His success in the Second Seminole War attracted national attention and earned him the nickname "Old Rough and Ready".
In 1845, during the annexation of Texas, President James K. Polk dispatched Taylor to the Rio Grande in anticipation of a battle with Mexico over the disputed Texas–Mexico border. The Mexican–American War broke out in April 1846, and Taylor defeated Mexican troops commanded by General Mariano Arista at the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, driving Arista's troops out of Texas. Taylor then led his troops into Mexico, where they defeated Mexican troops commanded by Pedro de Ampudia at the Battle of Monterrey. Defying orders, Taylor led his troops further south and, despite being severely outnumbered, dealt a crushing blow to Mexican forces under General Antonio López de Santa Anna at the Battle of Buena Vista. Taylor's troops were subsequently transferred to the command of Major General Winfield Scott, but Taylor retained his popularity.
The Whig Party convinced a reluctant Taylor to lead their ticket in the 1848 presidential election, despite his unclear political tenets and lack of interest in politics. At the 1848 Whig National Convention, Taylor defeated Winfield Scott and former Senator Henry Clay for the party's nomination. He won the general election alongside New York politician Millard Fillmore, defeating Democratic Party candidates Lewis Cass and William Orlando Butler, as well as a third-party effort led by former president Martin Van Buren and Charles Francis Adams Sr. of the Free Soil Party. Taylor became the first president to be elected without having served in a prior political office. As president, Taylor kept his distance from Congress and his Cabinet, even though partisan tensions threatened to divide the Union. Debate over the status of slavery in the Mexican Cession dominated the national political agenda and led to threats of secession from Southerners. Despite being a Southerner and a slaveholder himself, Taylor did not push for the expansion of slavery, and sought sectional harmony above all other concerns. To avoid the issue of slavery, he urged settlers in New Mexico and California to bypass the territorial stage and draft constitutions for statehood, setting the stage for the Compromise of 1850.
Taylor died suddenly of a stomach disease on July 9, 1850, with his administration having accomplished little aside from the ratification of the Clayton–Bulwer Treaty. Vice President Fillmore assumed the presidency and served the remainder of his term. Historians and scholars have ranked Taylor in the bottom quartile of U.S. presidents, owing in part to his short term of office (16 months), though he has been described as "more a forgettable president than a failed one".
Zachary Taylor was born on November 24, 1784,
Taylor was a descendant of Elder
His family forsook their exhausted Virginia land, joined the westward migration and settled near future Louisville, Kentucky, on the Ohio River. Taylor grew up in a small woodland cabin until, with increased prosperity, his family moved to a brick house. As a child Taylor lived in a battleground of the American Indian Wars, with Taylor claiming that he had seen Native Americans abduct and scalp his classmates while they were walking down the road together. The rapid growth of Louisville was a boon for Taylor's father, who by the start of the 19th century had acquired 10,000 acres (40 km2) throughout Kentucky, as well as 26 slaves to cultivate the most developed portion of his holdings. Taylor's formal education was sporadic because Kentucky's education system was just taking shape during his formative years.
His mother taught him to read and write, and he later attended a school operated by Elisha Ayer, a teacher originally from Connecticut. He also attended a Middletown, Kentucky academy run by Kean O'Hara, a classically trained scholar originally from Ireland, and the father of Theodore O'Hara. Ayer recalled Taylor as a patient and quick learner, but his early letters showed a weak grasp of spelling and grammar, as well as poor handwriting. All improved over time, though his handwriting was always difficult to read.
Marriage and family
In June 1810, Taylor married Margaret Mackall Smith, whom he had met the previous autumn in Louisville. "Peggy" Smith came from a prominent family of Maryland planters—she was the daughter of Major Walter Smith, who had served in the Revolutionary War. The couple had six children:
- Ann Mackall Taylor (1811–1875),Confederate Navy. President Taylor's two great-grandsons were:
- Sarah Knox "Knoxie" Taylor (1814–1835), married Jefferson Davis in 1835, a subordinate officer whom she had met through her father at the end of the Black Hawk War; she died at 21 of malaria in St. Francisville, Louisiana, three months after her marriage.
- Octavia Pannell Taylor (1816–1820), died in early childhood.
- Margaret Smith Taylor (1819–1820), died in infancy along with Octavia when the Taylor family was stricken with a "bilious fever."
- Mary Elizabeth "Betty" Taylor (1824–1909), married William Wallace Smith Bliss in 1848 (he died 1853); married Philip Pendleton Dandridge in 1858.
Margaret Smith Taylor
Sarah [Knox] Taylor
On May 3, 1808, Taylor joined the U.S. Army, receiving a
Taylor was promoted to
In July 1811 he was called to the
War of 1812
In the spring of 1814, he was called back into action under Brigadier General
Command of Fort Howard
For two years, Taylor commanded Fort Howard at the Green Bay, Michigan Territory settlement, then he returned to Louisville and his family. In April 1819 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel and dined with President James Monroe and General Andrew Jackson. In late 1821, Taylor took the 7th Infantry to Natchitoches, Louisiana, on the Red River. On the orders of General Edmund P. Gaines, they set out to locate a new post more convenient to the Sabine River frontier. By the following March, Taylor had established Fort Jesup, at the Shield's Spring site southwest of Natchitoches.
That November (1822) he was transferred to Baton Rouge on the Mississippi River in Louisiana, where he remained until February 1824. He spent the next few years on recruiting duty. In late 1826, he was called to Washington, D.C., for work on an Army committee to consolidate and improve military organization. In the meantime Taylor acquired his first Louisiana plantation and decided to move with his family to their new home in Baton Rouge.
Black Hawk War
In May 1828, Taylor was called back to action, commanding Fort Snelling in Michigan Territory (now Minnesota) on the Upper Mississippi River for a year, and then nearby Fort Crawford for a year. After some time on furlough, spent expanding his landholdings, Taylor was promoted to colonel of the 1st Infantry Regiment in April 1832, when the Black Hawk War was beginning in the West. Taylor campaigned under General Henry Atkinson to pursue and later defend against Chief Black Hawk's forces throughout the summer. The end of the war in August 1832 signaled the final Indian resistance to U.S. expansion in the area.
During this period Taylor opposed the courtship of his 17-year-old daughter Sarah Knox Taylor with Lieutenant Jefferson Davis, the future President of the Confederate States of America. He respected Davis but did not wish his daughter to become a military wife, as he knew it was a hard life for families. Davis and Sarah Taylor married in June 1835 (when she was 21), but she died three months later of malaria contracted on a visit to Davis's sister's home in St. Francisville, Louisiana.
Second Seminole War
By 1837, the
After his long-requested relief was granted, Taylor spent a comfortable year touring the nation with his family and meeting with military leaders. During this period, he began to be interested in politics and corresponded with President William Henry Harrison. He was made commander of the Second Department of the Army's Western Division in May 1841. The sizable territory ran from the Mississippi River westward, south of the 37th parallel north. Stationed in Arkansas, Taylor enjoyed several uneventful years, spending as much time attending to his land speculation as to military matters.
In anticipation of the annexation of the Republic of Texas, which had established independence in 1836, Taylor was sent in April 1844 to Fort Jesup in Louisiana, and ordered to guard against attempts by Mexico to reclaim the territory. There were more senior generals in the army who might have taken this important command, such as Winfield Scott and Edmund P. Gaines. But both were known members of the Whig Party, and Taylor's apolitical reputation and friendly relations with Andrew Jackson made him the choice of Democratic President James K. Polk. Polk directed him to deploy into disputed territory in Texas, "on or near the Rio Grande" near Mexico. Taylor chose a spot at Corpus Christi, and his Army of Occupation encamped there until the following spring in anticipation of a Mexican attack.
When Polk's attempts to negotiate with Mexico failed, Taylor's men advanced to the Rio Grande in March 1846, and war appeared imminent. Violence broke out several weeks later, when some of Captain Seth B. Thornton's men were attacked by Mexican forces north of the river. Polk, learning of the Thornton Affair, told Congress in May that a war between Mexico and the U.S. had begun.
That same month, Taylor commanded American forces at the Battle of Palo Alto and the nearby Battle of Resaca de la Palma. Though greatly outnumbered, he defeated the Mexican "Army of the North" commanded by General Mariano Arista, and forced the troops back across the Rio Grande. Taylor was later praised for his humane treatment of the wounded Mexican soldiers prior to the prisoner exchange with General Arista, giving them the same care as was given to American wounded. After tending to the wounded, he performed the last rites for the dead of both the American and Mexican soldiers killed during the battle.
These victories made him a popular hero, and in May 1846 Taylor received a brevet promotion to major general and a formal commendation from Congress. In June, Taylor was promoted to the full rank of major general. The national press compared him to George Washington and Andrew Jackson, 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."
After crossing the Rio Grande, in September Taylor inflicted heavy casualties upon the Mexicans at the Battle of Monterrey, and captured that city in three days, despite its impregnable repute. Taylor was criticized for signing a "liberal" truce, rather than pressing for a large-scale surrender. Polk had hoped that the occupation of Northern Mexico would induce the Mexicans to sell Alta California and New Mexico, but the Mexicans remained unwilling to part with so much territory. Polk sent an army under the command of Winfield Scott to besiege Veracruz, an important Mexican port city, while Taylor was ordered to remain near Monterrey. Many of Taylor's experienced soldiers were placed under the command of Scott, leaving Taylor with a smaller and less effective force. Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna intercepted a letter from Scott regarding Taylor's smaller force, and he moved north, intent on destroying Taylor's force before confronting Scott's army.
Learning of Santa Anna's approach, and refusing to retreat despite the Mexican army's greater numbers, Taylor established a strong defensive position near the town of Saltillo. Santa Anna attacked Taylor with 20,000 men at the Battle of Buena Vista in February 1847, leaving around 700 Americans dead or wounded at a cost of over 1,500 Mexican casualties.[b] Outmatched, the Mexican forces retreated, ensuring a "far-reaching" victory for the Americans.
In recognition of his victory at Buena Vista, on July 4, 1847, Taylor was elected an honorary member of the New York Society of the Cincinnati, the Virginia branch of which included his father as a charter member. Taylor also was made a member of the Aztec Club of 1847, Military Society of the Mexican War. Taylor received three Congressional Gold Medals for his service in the Mexican-American War and remains the only person to have received the medal three times.
Taylor remained at Monterrey until late November 1847, when he set sail for home. While he spent the following year in command of the Army's entire western division, his active military career was effectively over. In December he received a hero's welcome in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, which set the stage for the 1848 presidential election.
Ulysses S. Grant served under Taylor in this war and had this to say about his style of leadership: "A better army, man for man, probably never faced an enemy than the one commanded by General Taylor in the earliest two engagements of the Mexican War."
General Taylor was not an officer to trouble the administration much with his demands but was inclined to do the best he could with the means given to him. He felt his responsibility as going no further. If he had thought that he was sent to perform an impossibility with the means given him, he would probably have informed the authorities of his opinion and left them to determine what should be done. If the judgment was against him he would have gone on and done the best he could with the means at hand without parading his grievance before the public. No soldier could face either danger or responsibility more calmly than he. These are qualities more rarely found than genius or physical courage. General Taylor never made any great show or parade, either of uniform or retinue. In dress he was possibly too plain, rarely wearing anything in the field to indicate his rank, or even that he was an officer; but he was known to every soldier in his army, and was respected by all.
Election of 1848
In his capacity as a career officer, Taylor had never publicly revealed his political beliefs before 1848 nor voted before that time.
Well before the American victory at Buena Vista, political clubs were formed which supported Taylor for president. His support was drawn from an unusually broad assortment of political bands, including Whigs and Democrats, Northerners and Southerners, allies and opponents of national leaders such as Henry Clay and James K. Polk. By late 1846 Taylor's opposition to a presidential run began to weaken, and it became clear that his principles more closely resembled Whig orthodoxy. Taylor despised both Polk and his policies, while the Whigs were considering nominating another war hero for the presidency after the success of its previous winning nominee William Henry Harrison in 1840.
As support for Taylor's candidacy grew, he continued to keep his distance from both parties, but made it clear that he would have voted for Whig
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, which proposed against such an expansion. This position did not enhance his support from activist antislavery elements in the Northern United States, 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.
In February 1848, Taylor again announced that he would not accept either party's presidential nomination. Taylor's reluctance to identify himself as a Whig nearly cost him the party's presidential nomination, but Senator John J. Crittenden of Kentucky and other supporters finally convinced Taylor to declare himself a Whig. Though Clay retained a strong following among the Whigs, Whig leaders like William H. Seward and Abraham Lincoln were eager to support a war hero who could potentially replicate the success of the party's only other successful presidential candidate, William Henry Harrison.
At the 1848 Whig National Convention, Taylor defeated Clay and Winfield Scott to receive the Whig nomination for president. For his vice presidential nominee the convention chose Millard Fillmore, a prominent New York Whig who had chaired the House Ways and Means Committee and had been a contender for Clay's vice presidential nominee in the 1844 election. Fillmore's selection was largely an attempt at reconciliation with northern Whigs, who were furious at the nomination of a slave-owning southerner; all factions of the party were dissatisfied with the final ticket. It was initially unclear whether Taylor would accept the nomination because he did not respond to the letters notifying him of the convention's outcome, which was because he had instructed his local post office not to deliver his mail to avoid postage fees. Taylor continued to minimize his role in the campaign, preferring not to directly meet with voters or correspond regarding his political views. Taylor did little active campaigning, and it is possible he did not even vote on Election Day. His campaign was skillfully directed by Crittenden, and bolstered by a late endorsement from Senator Daniel Webster of Massachusetts.
Democrats were even less unified than the Whigs, as former Democratic President Martin Van Buren broke from the party and led the anti-slavery Free Soil Party's ticket. Van Buren won the support of many Democrats and Whigs who opposed the extension of slavery into the territories, but he took more votes from Democratic nominee Lewis Cass in the crucial state of New York.
Nationally, Taylor defeated Cass and Van Buren, taking 163 of the 290
Taylor ignored the Whig platform, as historian Michael F. Holt explains:
Taylor was equally indifferent to programs Whigs had long considered vital. Publicly, he was artfully ambiguous, refusing to answer questions about his views on banking, the tariff, and internal improvements. Privately, he was more forthright. The idea of a national bank "is dead, and will not be revived in my time." In the future the tariff "will be increased only for revenue"; in other words, Whig hopes of restoring the protective tariff of 1842 were vain. There would never again be surplus federal funds from public land sales to distribute to the states, and internal improvements "will go on in spite of presidential vetoes." In a few words, that is, Taylor pronounced an epitaph for the entire Whig economic program.
|Presidency of Zachary Taylor|
March 4, 1849 – July 9, 1850
Seal of the President
As president-elect, Taylor kept his distance from Washington, not resigning his Western Division command until late January 1849. He spent the months following the election formulating his cabinet selections. He was deliberate and quiet about his decisions, to the frustration of his fellow Whigs. While he despised patronage and political games, he endured a flurry of advances from office-seekers looking to play a role in his administration.
While he would not appoint any Democrats, Taylor wanted his cabinet to reflect the nation's diverse interests, and so apportioned the seats geographically. He also avoided choosing prominent Whigs, sidestepping such obvious selections as Clay. He saw Crittenden as a cornerstone of his administration, offering him the crucial seat of Secretary of State, but Crittenden insisted on serving out the Governorship of Kentucky to which he had just been elected. Taylor settled instead on Senator John M. Clayton of Delaware, a close associate of Crittenden's.
|The Taylor cabinet|
|Vice President||Millard Fillmore||1849–1850|
|Secretary of State||John M. Clayton||1849–1850|
|Secretary of the Treasury||William M. Meredith||1849–1850|
|Secretary of War||George W. Crawford||1849–1850|
|Attorney General||Reverdy Johnson||1849–1850|
|Postmaster General||Jacob Collamer||1849–1850|
|Secretary of the Navy||William Ballard Preston||1849–1850|
|Secretary of the Interior||Thomas Ewing||1849–1850|
With Clayton's aid, Taylor chose the six remaining members of his cabinet. One of the incoming Congress's first actions would be to establish the Department of the Interior, so Taylor would be appointing that department's inaugural secretary. Thomas Ewing, who had previously served as a senator from Ohio and as Secretary of the Treasury under William Henry Harrison, accepted the patronage-rich position of Secretary of the Interior. For the position of Postmaster General, which also served as a center of patronage, Taylor chose Congressman Jacob Collamer of Vermont.
After Horace Binney refused appointment as Secretary of the Treasury, Taylor chose another prominent Philadelphian in William M. Meredith. George W. Crawford, a former Governor of Georgia, accepted the position of Secretary of War, while Congressman William B. Preston of Virginia became Secretary of the Navy. Senator Reverdy Johnson of Maryland accepted appointment as Attorney General, and Johnson became one of the most influential members of Taylor's cabinet. Vice President Fillmore was not in favor with Taylor, and Fillmore was largely sidelined throughout Taylor's presidency.
Taylor began his trek to Washington in late January, a journey rife with bad weather, delays, injuries, sickness—and an abduction by a family friend. Taylor finally arrived in the nation's capital on February 24 and soon met with the outgoing President Polk. The incumbent Democrat held a low opinion of Taylor, privately deeming him "without political information" and "wholly unqualified for the station" of president. Taylor spent the following week meeting with political elites, some of whom were unimpressed with his appearance and demeanor. With less than two weeks until his inauguration, he met with Clayton and hastily finalized his cabinet.
Taylor's term as president began Sunday, March 4, but his inauguration was not held until the following day out of religious concerns.[d] His inauguration speech discussed the many tasks facing the nation, but presented a governing style of deference to Congress and sectional compromise instead of assertive executive action. His speech also emphasized the importance of following President Washington's precedent in avoiding entangling alliances.
During the period after his inauguration, Taylor made time to meet with numerous office-seekers and other ordinary citizens who desired his attention. He also attended an unusual number of funerals, including services for former president Polk and Dolley Madison. According to Eisenhower, Taylor coined the phrase "First Lady" in his eulogy for Madison. Throughout the summer of 1849, Taylor toured the Northeastern United States to familiarize himself with a region of which he had seen little. He spent much of the trip plagued by gastrointestinal illness and returned to Washington by September.
As Taylor took office, Congress faced a battery of questions related to the Mexican Cession, acquired by the U.S. after the Mexican War and divided into military districts. It was unclear which districts would be established into states and which would become federal territories, while the question of their slave status threatened to bitterly divide Congress. Southerners objected to the admission of the California Territory, the New Mexico Territory, and the Utah Territory to the Union as free states despite California's demographic and economic growth. Additionally, Southerners had grown increasingly angry about the aid that Northerners had given to fugitive slaves after the Prigg v. Pennsylvania decision allowed slave catchers to capture alleged runaway slaves in free states, and that Northern authorities frequently refused to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. At the same time, northerners demanded the abolition of the domestic slave trade in Washington DC. Finally, Texas claimed parts of eastern New Mexico and threatened to send its state militia to militarily enforce its territorial claims.
While a Southern slaveowner himself, Taylor believed that slavery was economically infeasible in the Mexican Cession, and as such he opposed slavery in those territories as a needless source of controversy. His major goal was sectional peace, preserving the Union through legislative compromise. As the threat of Southern secession grew, he sided increasingly with antislavery Northerners such as Senator William H. Seward of New York, even suggesting that he would sign the Wilmot Proviso to ban slavery in federal territories should such a bill reach his desk.
In Taylor's view, the best way forward was to admit California as a state rather than a federal territory, as it would leave the slavery question out of Congress's hands. The timing for statehood was in Taylor's favor, as the California Gold Rush was well underway at the time of his inauguration, and California's population was exploding. The administration dispatched Rep. Thomas Butler King to California, to test the waters and advocate on behalf of statehood, knowing that the Californians were certain to adopt an anti-slavery constitution. King found that a constitutional convention was already underway, and by October 1849, the convention unanimously agreed to join the Union—and to ban slavery within their borders.
The question of the New Mexico–Texas border was unsettled at the time of Taylor's inauguration. The territory newly won from Mexico was under federal jurisdiction, but the Texans claimed a swath of land north of
Taylor sent his only
Taylor and his Secretary of State,
A perceived insult from the French minister Guillaume Tell Poussin nearly led to a break in diplomatic relations until Poussin was replaced, and a reparation dispute with Portugal resulted in harsh words from the Taylor administration. In a more positive effort, the administration arranged for two ships to assist in the United Kingdom's search for a team of British explorers, led by John Franklin, who had gotten lost in the Arctic. While previous Whig administrations had emphasized Pacific trade as an economic imperative, the Taylor administration took no major initiative in the Far East.
Throughout 1849 and 1850, they contended with Narciso López, the Venezuelan radical who led repeated filibustering expeditions in an attempt to conquer the Spanish Captaincy General of Cuba. The annexation of Cuba was the object of fascination among many in the South, who saw in Cuba a potential new slave state, and López had several prominent Southern supporters. López made generous offers to United States Armed Forces leaders to support him, but Taylor and Clayton saw the enterprise as illegal. They issued a blockade, and later, authorized a mass arrest of López and his fellows, although the group would eventually be acquitted. They also confronted Spain, which had arrested several Americans on the charge of piracy, but the Spaniards eventually surrendered them to maintain good relations with the U.S.
Arguably the Taylor administration's definitive accomplishment in foreign policy was the Clayton–Bulwer Treaty of 1850, regarding a proposed inter-oceanic canal through Central America. While the U.S. and Britain were on friendly terms, and the construction of such a canal was decades away from reality, the mere possibility put the two nations in an uneasy position. For several years, Britain had been seizing strategic points, particularly the Mosquito Coast on the eastern coast of present-day Nicaragua. Negotiations were held with Britain that resulted in the landmark Clayton–Bulwer Treaty. Both nations agreed not to claim control of any canal that might be built in Nicaragua. The treaty promoted the development of an Anglo-American alliance; its completion was Taylor's last action as president.
Compromise attempts and final days
Clay took a central role as Congress debated the slavery question. While his positions had some overlap with Taylor's, the president always maintained his distance from Clay. Historians disagree on his motivations for doing so. Nevertheless, this caused Taylor to become politically isolated as Southerners disapproved of his preference to appoint the territories of the Mexican Cession as free states while Northerners disapproved of his opposition to Clay's legislative agenda. As a result, Congress increasingly ignored Taylor while drafting a compromise. With assistance from Daniel Webster, Clay developed his landmark proposal, the Compromise of 1850. The proposal allowed statehood for California, giving it independence on the slavery question, while the other territories would remain under federal jurisdiction. This would include the disputed parts of New Mexico, although Texas would be reimbursed for the territory.
Slavery would be retained in the District of Columbia, but the slave trade would be banned. Meanwhile, a strict
Tensions flared as Congress negotiated and secession talks grew, culminating with a threat from Taylor to send troops into New Mexico to protect its border from Texas, with himself leading the army. The crisis escalated after delegates in New Mexico proposed a new state constitution which would have banned slavery and after Peter Hansborough Bell won the 1849 Texas gubernatorial election on a pledge to order a militia invasion of New Mexico. Southern senators accused Taylor of secretly sending the United States Army to New Mexico, to which Taylor responded by denying the allegations but emphasizing that he would like to. Taylor also said that anyone "taken in rebellion against the Union, he would hang ... with less reluctance than he had hanged deserters and spies in Mexico."
The omnibus law was a major step forward on these issues but ultimately could not pass, due to extremists on both sides and Taylor's opposition.
No great compromise reached Taylor's desk during his presidency; instead, his last days were overshadowed by the
Treasury Secretary Meredith, with the support of Attorney General Johnson, finally signed off on the payment in April 1850. To the president's embarrassment, this payment included a legal compensation of nearly $100,000 to Crawford; two cabinet members had effectively offered a tremendous chunk of the public treasury to another. A House investigation cleared Crawford of any legal wrongdoing, but nonetheless expressed disapproval of his accepting the payment. Taylor, who had already been sketching out a re-organization of his cabinet, now had an unfolding scandal to complicate the situation. The United States House of Representatives voted to censure President Taylor, and newspapers of both parties began calling for his impeachment.
On July 4, 1850, Taylor reportedly consumed copious amounts of fruit (namely cherries) and iced milk while attending holiday celebrations during a fund-raising event at the
Fever ensued and Taylor's chance of recovery was small. On July 8, Taylor remarked to a medical attendant:
I should not be surprised if this were to terminate in my death. I did not expect to encounter what has beset me since my elevation to the Presidency. God knows I have endeavored to fulfill what I conceived to be an honest duty. But I have been mistaken. My motives have been misconstrued, and my feelings most grossly outraged.
Taylor died at 10:35 p.m. on July 9, 1850. He was 65 years old. After his death, Vice President Fillmore assumed the presidency and completed Taylor's term, which ended on March 4, 1853. Soon after taking office, Fillmore signed into law the Compromise of 1850, which settled many of the issues faced by the Taylor administration.
A Joint Special Committee was appointed by the Common Council of the city of New York, to make the necessary arrangements for the funeral in honor of the late Taylor, which took place in New York City, on Tuesday July 23, 1850. A procession moved from the Park and proceeded down Broadway, to Chatham Street to the Bowery; down to Union Square; and then in front of the City Hall. The procession included the firing of three volleys by the 7th National Guard Regiment. There were thirty pallbearers, which was the number of states in the Union at that time.
Taylor was interred in the Public Vault of the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., from July 13, 1850, to October 25, 1850 (which was built in 1835 to hold remains of notables until either the grave site could be prepared or transportation arranged to another city). His body was transported to the Taylor family plot where his parents were buried on the old Taylor homestead plantation known as "Springfield" in Louisville, Kentucky.
|W.D. La.||Henry Boyce||1849–1861[e]|
Historical reputation and memorials
Because of his short tenure, Taylor is not considered to have strongly influenced the office of the presidency or the United States.
Taylor was the last president to own slaves while in office. He was the third of four Whig presidents,[g] the last being Fillmore, his successor. Taylor was also the second president to die in office, preceded by William Henry Harrison, who died while serving as president nine years earlier.
In 1883, the
The US Post Office released
He is the namesake for several entities and places around the United States, including:
- Camp Taylor in Kentucky and Fort Zachary Taylor in Florida
- The SS Zachary Taylor, a World War II Liberty ship
- Zachary Taylor Parkway in Louisiana and Zachary Taylor Hall at Southeastern Louisiana University
- Taylor County, Georgia
- Taylor County, Iowa
- Taylor County, Kentucky
- Zachary Taylor Highwayin Virginia
- Taylor, Michigan
- Taylor Street, Savannah, Georgia.
President Taylor was also the namesake for architect Zachary Taylor Davis.
Almost immediately after his death, rumors began to circulate that Taylor was poisoned by pro-slavery Southerners or
Neutron activation analysis conducted at Oak Ridge National Laboratory revealed no evidence of poisoning, as arsenic levels were too low. The analysis concluded Taylor had contracted "cholera morbus, or acute gastroenteritis", as Washington had open sewers, and his food or drink may have been contaminated. Any potential for recovery was overwhelmed by his doctors, who treated him with "ipecac, calomel, opium, and quinine" at 40 grains per dose (approximately 2.6 grams), and "bled and blistered him too."
Political scientist Michael Parenti questions the traditional explanation for Taylor's death. Relying on interviews and reports by forensic pathologists, he argues that the procedure used to test for arsenic poisoning was fundamentally flawed. A 2010 review concludes: "there is no definitive proof that Taylor was assassinated, nor would it appear that there is definitive proof that he was not."
- Historical rankings of presidents of the United States
- List of presidents of the United States
- List of presidents of the United States by previous experience
- List of presidents of the United States who died in office
- List of presidents of the United States who owned slaves
- List of unsolved deaths
- Presidents of the United States on U.S. postage stamps
- Estimates of casualties vary widely. The Encyclopædia Britannica lists casualties of about 1,500 Mexican to 700 American. Hamilton lists the "killed or wounded" as 673 Americans to "at least eighteen hundred" Mexicans. Bauer lists "594 killed, 1039 wounded, and 1,854 missing" on the Mexican side, with "272 killed, 387 wounded, and 6 missing" on the American side.
- Taylor was not the last Whig to serve as president, nor was he the last Southerner to serve as president prior to Woodrow Wilson. Taylor was succeeded in office by Fillmore, who was also a member of the Whig Party. Andrew Johnson, a Southerner, served as president from 1865 to 1869. However, neither Fillmore nor Johnson were directly elected to the presidency.
- Folklore holds that David Rice Atchison, as president pro tempore of the Senate, unknowingly succeeded to the presidency for this day, but no major sources accept this view.
- Recess appointment; formally nominated on December 21, 1849, confirmed by the United States Senate on August 2, 1850, and received commission on August 2, 1850.
- 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.
- This numbering includes John Tyler, who served as vice president under the Whig William Henry Harrison but was expelled from his party shortly after becoming president.
- Tolson, Jay (February 16, 2007). "Worst Presidents: Zachary Taylor (1849–1850)". U.S. News & World Report.
- "Zachary Taylor". PBS. Retrieved November 23, 2022.
- Henry, Geoffrey (March 1991). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Hare Forest Farm" (PDF). Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 10, 2010.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 1–2.
- Hamilton 1941, pp. 21–24, 261–262.
- Hamilton 1941, pp. 22, 259.
- "Family relationship of General Robert E. Lee and Zachary Taylor via Richard Lee". famouskin.com.
- Bauer 1985, p. 4.
- Johnston, J. Stoddard (1913). "Sketch of Theodore O'Hara". The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society. Frankfort, Kentucky: State Journal Company. p. 67.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 2–4.
- Hamilton 1941, pp. 25–29.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 8–9.
- Hamilton 1941, p. 37.
- "Zachary Taylor: Facts at a Glance". American President: A Reference Resource. Miller Center (University of Virginia). September 26, 2016.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 48–49.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 69–70.
- Bauer 1985, p. 38.
- Bauer 1985, p. 243.
- Eisenhower 2008, pp. 138–139.
- "Timeline, 1784–1815". Zachary Taylor Papers. Library of Congress.
- Bauer 1985, p. 5.
- Hamilton 1941, p. 33.
- Eisenhower 2008, pp. 4–6.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 5–10.
- Hamilton 1941, pp. 35–37.
- ANTI-SLAVERY REPORTER VOL III, NO XXXVI, December 1, 1848, p 194-5
- Bauer 1985, p. 10.
- Hamilton 1941, pp. 37–38.
- Eisenhower 2008, pp. 7–8.
- Eisenhower 2008, pp. 10–11.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 13–19.
- Hamilton 1941, pp. 39–46.
- Eisenhower 2008, pp. 13–15.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 20–30.
- Hamilton 1941, pp. 47–59.
- Eisenhower 2008, pp. 17–19.
- Baton Rouge Barracks at NorthAmericanForts.com, accessed June 1, 2018.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 40–47.
- Hamilton 1941, pp. 70–77.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 47–49.
- Hamilton 1941, pp. 77–82.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 59–74.
- Hamilton 1941, pp. 83–109.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 75–95.
- Hamilton 1941, pp. 122–141.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 96–110.
- Hamilton 1941, pp. 142–155.
- Bauer 1985, p. 111.
- Hamilton 1941, pp. 156–158.
- Eisenhower 2008, pp. 30–31.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 116–123.
- Hamilton 1941, pp. 158–165.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 123–129, 145–149.
- Hamilton 1941, pp. 170–177.
- Bauer 1985, p. 166.
- Hamilton 1941, p. 195.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 152–162.
- Hamilton 1941, pp. 181–190.
- Montgomery, 1847, pp. 176–177
- Fry 2009, pp. 186–187.
- Fry 2009, p. 188.
- Hamilton 1941, pp. 198–199.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 166–185.
- Hamilton 1941, pp. 207–216.
- Eisenhower 2008, pp. 62–66.
- Eisenhower 2008, pp. 66–68.
- Hamilton 1941, p. 241.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 205–206.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 186-207-2.
- Hamilton 1941, pp. 217–242.
- "Future President Zachary Taylor's Unprecedented Three Congressional Gold Medals | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives". history.house.gov. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
- Hamilton 1941, pp. 248–255.
- Smith 2011, p. 83.
- Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant Vol 1. pg 36 Kindle Android Version, 2012
- "Zachary Taylor: Campaigns and Elections". Miller Center of Public Affairs. Archived from the original on July 2, 2015. Retrieved January 8, 2009.
- Hamilton 1951, pp. 38–44.
- Cohen 2019, p. 52.
- Smith 1988, pp. 40–42.
- Smith 1988, pp. 20–21.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 236–238.
- Hamilton 1951, pp. 94–97.
- Cohen (2019), p. 55-56
- Bauer 1985, pp. 239–244.
- Smith 1988, pp. 21–23.
- Holt, p. 272.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 248–251.
- Eisenhower 2008, pp. 90–94, 128.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 251–253.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 247–248.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 253–255, 260–262.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 256–258.
- Eisenhower 2008, pp. 94–95.
- Eisenhower 2008, pp. 96–97.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 268–270.
- "[Zachary Taylor, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing left] / Brady, N.Y." Library of Congress. Retrieved February 4, 2022.
- Cohen (2019), p. 57-58
- Eisenhower 2008, pp. 101–102.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 289–290.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 295–298.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 290–291.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 291–292.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 292–294.
- Bauer 1985, p. 294.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 298–299.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 299–300.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 273–274, 288.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 274–275.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 275–278.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 287–288.
- Eisenhower 2008, pp. 113–114.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 278–280.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 280–281.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 281.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 281–287.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 301, 307–308.
- Cohen 2019, p. 69.
- Bauer 1985, p. 301.
- Cohen (2019), p. 68-69
- "Zachary Taylor". whitehouse.gov. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 301–312.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 312–313.
- Kennedy, Bailey & Cohen (2006), p. 71-72
- Bauer 1985, p. 314.
- Bauer 1985, pp. 314–316.
- Eisenhower 2008, p. 133.
- The American nation: its executive ... – Google Books. Williams Publishing Co. 1888. Retrieved May 12, 2014.
- Bauer 1985, p. 316.
- Eisenhower 2008, pp. 139–140.
- "Report Of The Committee Of Arrangements Of The Common Council of the City of New York For The Funeral Obsequies In Memory Of Gen. Sachary Taylor". The Seamen's Church Institute of New York. McSpedon & Baker. III. 1851. Retrieved August 8, 2021.
- "Solem Funeral Pageant In The City Of New York In Honor Of The Memory And Patriotic Services Of Zachary Taylor, The Thirteenth President of the United States". New York Daily Herald. New York, New York. July 24, 1850. p. 1. Retrieved August 8, 2021.
- Montgomery, Henry (1850). The Life of Major General Zachary Taylor (Twentieth ed.). Derby, Miller & Company. Retrieved June 29, 2021.
- "Zachary Taylor's Springfield – Presidents: A Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary". National Park Service. Archived from the original on April 19, 2022. Retrieved May 31, 2022.
- "Biographical Directory of Federal Judges". History of the Federal Judiciary. Federal Judicial Center.
- "Zachary Taylor: Impact and Legacy". Miller Center of Public Affairs. Archived from the original on December 17, 2010. Retrieved January 12, 2009.
- "State Gift Accepted As National Cemetery". Owensboro Inquirer. Owensboro, Kentucky. March 12, 1928. p. 6. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
- Scotts Identifier of US Definitive Issues
- Shillington, Patty (July 1, 1985). "Civil War relic re-emerges from ruin". The Miami Herald. Miami, Florida. p. 1D. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
- The Zachary Taylor Parkway: Louisiana's road to the future, accessed April 15, 2012.
- "Zachary Taylor Hall". selu.edu. Archived from the original on April 1, 2011. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
- Wikimedia Commons photo of Zach Taylor Hall, accessed April 15, 2012.
- "Taylor County". www.iowacounties.org. Archived from the original on April 25, 2007.
- The Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society, Volume 1. Kentucky State Historical Society. 1903. p. 37.
- Willard and Marion (2010). Killing the President. p. 188.
- Kennedy, Bailey & Cohen (2006), p. 74-75
- McLeod, Michael (July 25, 1993). "Clara Rising, Ex-uf Prof Who Got Zachary Taylor Exhumed". Orlando Sentinel.
- Marriott, Michel (June 27, 2011). "Verdict In: 12th President Was Not Assassinated". The New York Times. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- "President Zachary Taylor and the Laboratory: Presidential Visit from the Grave". Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Archived from the original on July 10, 2013. Retrieved November 2, 2010.
- Sampas, Jim (July 4, 1991). "Scandal and the Heat Did Zachary Taylor In". The New York Times. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- Willard and Marion (2010). Killing the President. p. 189.
Political and military history
- McKinley, Silas B.; Bent, Silas (1946). Old Rough and Ready: The Life and Times of Zachary Taylor. New York: Vanguard Press.
- Graff, Henry F., ed. (2002). The Presidents: A Reference History (3rd ed.).
- OCLC 263497977.
- OCLC 862222363. pp 291–308
- Jones, Emma C. Brewster (1908). The Brewster Genealogy, 1566–1907: a Record of the Descendants of William Brewster of the "Mayflower," ruling elder of the Pilgrim church which founded Plymouth Colony in 1620. New York: Grafton Press. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
- Otto, Julie Helen; Roberts, Gary Boyd (1995). Ancestors of American Presidents (1st ed.). Santa Clarita, California: New England Historic Genealogical Society. OCLC 32824722.
- White House biography
- Zachary Taylor Presidential Papers Collection, The American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara
- Zachary Taylor from the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia
- Zachary Taylor: A Resource Guide from the Library of Congress
- Works by or about Zachary Taylor at Internet Archive
- Works by Zachary Taylor at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- Florida Seminole Wars Heritage Trail.
- Zachary Taylor letters, 1846–1848
- "Life Portrait of Zachary Taylor", from C-SPAN's American Presidents: Life Portraits, May 31, 1999
- Zachary Taylor at A Continent Divided: The U.S.-Mexico War, Center for Greater Southwestern Studies, the University of Texas at Arlington
- In 1850, Anthony Philip Heinrich wrote General Taylor's Funeral March.