1849 - 1850
Twelfth President vv
Zachary Taylor was born in Orange County,Virginia on November 24, 1784. His father had fought in the Revolutionary War.
President Taylor was one of six Presidents born in a log cabin. He was one of eight Presidents born in Virginia.
The Taylor's moved to Kentucky in 1785.They lived near Louisville, Kentucky. Taylor spent most of his life in Kentucky.
He learned to read and write from his mother. He didn't attend school.
Description: Zachary Taylor.
1849 daguerreotype by Mathew Brady.
Library of Congress
Taylor was a distant cousin of James Madison.
He was 5' 8" tall.
Zachary Taylor was known as "Old Rough and Ready." Plain, unassuming, and downright messy, he almost never wore a proper uniform. "He wears an old oil cap," said one man, "a dusty green coat, a frightful pair of trousers and on horseback he looks like a toad."
Taylor met his future wife, Margaret Mackall Smith while he was recovering from illness. She was visiting her sister at the time. They were married on June 21, 1810.
Taylor fought in the War of 1812. He and his troops had the first U.S. victory in that war. President Madison promoted him to brevet major.
In 1819, an interesting event happened. Zachary was promoted to lieutenant colonel. A few months later President Monroe and Andrew Jackson were visiting the western outpost of the Army. There was a welcoming party and Zachary Taylor was invited. So there was a US president and two future presidents in the same room.
In 1845, Taylor received orders to take troops to the Sabine River just south of Texas. A small battle took place with Mexican troops. A few Americans were killed. This event started the war with Mexico. Some people think that Poke sent the troops there to provoke a war.
Taylor didn't vote until he was 62. Until that time he was in the army and never was a residence because he moved so much.
President Taylor was a member of the Whig Party. Although he didn't agree with all of there programs.
In the election of 1848 there were three candidates. Taylor, Cass and VanBuren He was one of 15 Presidents who did not win a majority of the Popular Vote.
The election on November 7, 1848 wast the first time a presidential election was held on the same day in every state.
Zachary Taylor's Vice President was Millard Fillmore (1849-1850). At that time presidential candidates didn't have much say in who their running mate would be. Taylor had never met Fillmore when they were nominated.
Taylor refused all postage due correspondence. Because of this, he didn't receive notification of his nomination for president until several days later.
Visitors to the White House would take souvenir horsehair from Whitey, Taylor's old Army horse, that he kept on the White House lawn.
Taylor chewed tobacco. He was known as a sure shot when he spit tobacco. He never missed the sawdust box in the White House.
Taylor owned slaves. However, he was against the expansion of slavery into new states. President Taylor also opposed a stricter Fugitive Slave Act.
Zachary Taylor never lived in one place long enough to register to vote. He voted for the first time when he was 62 years old. Taylor had never voted in a Presidential Election until he voted for himself in 1848.
He was the first president that never held another public office.
Margaret Taylor had promised god that she would not make public appearances. So she lived upstairs in the White House. Her daughter Betty took care of the down stairs and social events.
He was the first President elected from a state of Louisiana.
While president Zachary Taylor went to two important funerals. President Polk died just four months of leaving the White House. Also Dolly Madison who was 81 during his administration. At the funeral Taylor coined the phrase "First Lady." That was the first time that phrase was used to designate the president's wife. It was universally accepted.
Zachary was the second president to die in office. William Harrison was the first president to die in office.
Taylor took a stand on slavery. While he would not abolish it in the current slave states, he would fight against the expansion of slavery into new states.
He was in office for 16 months. Vice President Fillmore took over as president.
Zachary Taylor suffered from heat stroke on July 4,1850 and died 5 days later in Washington D.C. At the time, of his death some people thought he died from gorging on cherries and milk at a 4th of July event. More likely it was a heat stroke or germs in the mild or water he drank.
Taylor died on July 12, 1850. He was laid in state in the East Room of the White House. His wife had the casket open three times so she could have a final look at her husband.
The Funeral was on Saturday. The pallbearers were all members of his family including Jefferson Davis, future president of the Confederate States and Taylor's son-in law. His horse Whitey was in the parade. Whitely was rider less with boots backward in the stirrups. It was and is an army tradition.
He was 84 years and 291 days old when he died. Abraham Lincoln gave the eulogy at the funeral.
Taylor was buried on his plantation near Louisville, Kentucky.
His body was later exhumed because some believed he was poisoned, but this was proved to be false.
He died from a form of cholera.
He was the second president to die in office. Harrison was the first.
In responding to Mexican General Santa Ana's demand that Taylor surrender, Taylor said, "Tell him to go to hell!"
On the day he died he asked his wife not to cry for him. He said " I have always done my duty. I am ready to die. My only regret is the friends I leave behind."