12th President of the United States, 1849-1850
Biography Read: “Zachary Taylor” by John Eisenhower
Key Facts: Whig Party. Nickname “Old Rough and Ready”. He was born on November 24th, 1784 in Orange County, Virginia and died in 1850 while in office.
- He was a “gentleman farmer” and slave owner.
- His Dad, Richard Taylor, was granted land near Louisville, KY for his service in the Revolutionary War where Zachary ended up being raised.
- He was taught to read and write by his mother. He was nearly illiterate.
- He joined the army in 1808 at age 23.
- In 1810 he married Margaret Mackall Smith.
- In 1811 he was given command of Fort Knox.
- In 1819, he dined with President James Monroe and Major General Andrew Jackson in Louisville. No one knew at the time that three present and future Presidents were in the room.
- In 1832, Taylor’s eldest daughter married against his wishes and died of malaria before a reconciliation could occur.
- When Mexico refused to sell land to the United States (President Polk), war was launched to take the land. Taylor lead troops into Mexico for battle. He strongly supported this war.
- After achieving success in the war, his popularity grew. The Whig Party nominated him with Vice President Millard Fillmore and they won, but barley.
- Taylor remained a General in the Army after becoming the President-Elect.
- Taylor added the Secretary of the Interior position to the cabinet.
- He coined the term “First Lady” at the funeral of Dolley Madison.
- Taylor used to walk around Washington since he had no secret service detail to deal with.
- The Potomac River was right next to the White House in Taylor’s time making it a swampy landscape.
- Taylor went to the ceremony laying the cornerstone for the Washington Monument. Afterward he walked around town in the heat eating fruit. That evening he got sick and later died (16 months into his Presidency).
- Many believe that the Civil War could have been avoided had Taylor lived. As a Southerner and a slave owner, he may have been able to reason with the South, but we will never know.
- President Zachary Taylor died July 9th, 1850 at 10:35 PM in the White House.
Casey Ryan Richards