Presidents: Zachary Taylor

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Zachary Taylor was the 12th President of the United States, a hero in the Mexican-American War and the only President to come from Louisiana.

Zachary Taylor

He was born on November 24, 1784 in Barboursville, Virginia to Richard and Sarah Dabney Taylor.  He descended from the Mayflower Pilgrim, William Brewster and was a second cousin to President James Madison.

He was described by a schoolmaster as a “quick learner”.

On May 3, 1808 he joined the U.S. Army and was commissioned a first lieutenant.

In June 1810, he married Margaret Mackall Smith.  They would have five daughters, two of whom died of bilious fever in 1820, and a son.

In July 1811 he assumed control of Fort Knox.  Later during the War of 1812, he successfully defended Fort Harrison in the Indiana Territory.

At the end of 1815, he resigned the army but re-entered a year later with a commission as a major.

After spending a few years recruiting, he entered action again in May 1828 as the Black Hawk War was beginning.  The end of the war in 1832, signaled the end of the Indian resistance and the ability for U.S. expansion in the west.

Zachary Taylor

In June 1835, his daughter, Sarah married Lt. Jefferson Davis.  She died of malaria three months later.

In 1837, he defeated the Seminole Indians in the Second Seminole Name.  His reputation as a military leader was growing, and with it, he began to be known as “Old Rough and Ready.”

He was sent to Fort Jesup in Louisiana in April 1844, to establish independence.  He commanded forces in the Mexican-American war and was compared to George Washington and Andrew Jackson, when they were both generals.  He denied any interest in running for office.

He won the Battle of Buena Vista against the Mexicans in February 1847.  In November 1847, he returned home ending his active military career.  However, he would remain in the army until the following year.

In 1848, he received the Whig nomination for President.  He had never publically shared his political beliefs before this time and ignored much of the Whig platform.

He was elected to the Presidency and resigned his military command in late January 1849.

It is said that Taylor, ” 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.”

Zachary Taylor

His inauguration was held on March 4th, 1849.

His wife was ill and lived on the second floor living quarters of the White House.  His daughter, Betty Bliss took over the responsibilities of hostess of the White House.

On July 4, 1850 he became severely ill after consuming a large amount of raw fruit and iced milk.

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.

He died on July 9, 1850 at the age of 65 years old.  He is buried in Louisville, Kentucky.


12th President of the United States
(March 5, 1849 to July 9, 1850)Nickname: “Old Rough and Ready”Born: November 24, 1784, near Barboursville, Virginia
Died: July 9, 1850, in Washington, D.C.

Father: Lieutenant Colonel Richard Taylor
Mother: Sarah Dabney Strother Taylor
Married: Margaret Mackall Smith (1788-1852), on June 21, 1810
Children: Ann Mackall Taylor (1811-75); Sarah Knox Taylor (1814-35); Octavia P. Taylor (1816-20); Margaret Smith Taylor (1819-20); Mary Elizabeth Taylor (1824-1909); Richard Taylor (1826-79)

Religion: Episcopalian
Education: No formal education
Occupation: Soldier
Political Party: Whig

Zachary Taylor



  • The Clayton-Bulwer Treaty signed with Britain guaranteed that any future canal across Central America would be available to all nations.

1784 Born on November 24, 1784 in Orange County, Virginia

1811 Battle of Tippecanoe

1812 The War of 1812 which has also been called the second War for Independence, between the United States and Great Britain. Zachary Taylor served in the War of 1812, Black Hawk, Second Seminole, and Mexican wars

1814 Treaty of Fort Jackson ends Creek War

1810 Zachary Taylor was married to Margaret Mackall Smith in 1810

1830 Indian Removal Act
Oregon Trail opens

1831 Nat Turner’s revolt

1832 Black Hawk War
Seminole War begins
Department of Indian Affairs established

1835 Texas War for Independence begins

1837 Zachary Taylor was made a Brigadier General as a result of his victory over the Seminoles at Lake Okeechobee

1837 Battle of the Alamo

1838 1838-1839: The Trail of Tears

1846 Mexican-American War begins. He captured Monterrey in September 1846

1847 He defeated Santa Anna at Buena Vista in February 1847 and became a hero of the Mexican War

1848 January 24th 1848 Gold is discovered at Sutter’s Mill in California
Mexican-American War ends in 1848

1849 He became the twelfth President of the United States of America

1849-50 The Clayton-Bulwer Treaty signed with Britain guaranteed that any future canal across Central America would be available to all nations

1850 Zachary Taylor died of heat stroke on July 4, 1850 dedication of the Washington Monument. He was buried in Louisville, Kentucky in what is now known as Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.




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