Zachery Tylor



Number President 12th President
Terms Served 1 Term Served (Died in Office)
Dates Served 1849-1850
Party Whig
State Represented Louisiana
Married to / First Lady Margaret Mackall Smith Taylor
Born November 24, 1784 in Orange County, Virginia
Died July 9, 1850 in Washington D.C. while in office. He got sick after eating cherries and milk at a July 4 celebration. He was the second president to die in office.
Age Zachery Tylor would be 224 years old this year


Zachary Taylor was born in Virginia. He belonged to a family of planters and slave owners, and spent his childhood in a log cabin in the forests. With prosperity the house became a brick mansion and Zachary lived here with his seven siblings. Zachary was poor in his studies and from the very beginning wanted a career in the armed forces.

From his first posting in 1808 as an officer, he continued to retain frontier postings until he became president. In 1810 he married Margaret Mackall Smith who belonged to a renowned family of Maryland. She frequently accompanied him on his postings – moving from one wilderness to another. His salary was modest but the land he got from his father brought him substantial returns as its value increased. However Taylor never supported slavery.

Taylor became famous for his combats against the native Indians – especially the Sacs and Seminoles during the 1830’s. He was loved by his colleagues and subordinates for he shared the travails of field duty with them. Although Taylor fought against the Native Americans he was sympathetic towards them and often protected them from white settlers.  He admired their guerilla tactics greatly.

Taylor shot to fame for his role in the Mexican war – 1846-1848. Texas was made a state in 1845. There was dispute over land demarcation with Mexico and President Polk ordered Taylor to move into the disputed land. Provocation from Mexico caused war to erupt. The Mexicans were easily defeated by the superior forces of Taylor. Taylor became vastly popular when everyone came to know how he had fought hand in hand with his troops. He became a hero with his informal dress, tattered hat of straw and his love for his horse, Whitey.

After the Mexican war dispute broke out between Northerners and Southerners as to whether slavery should continue in the newly acquired territories. Some southern states threatened to secede but Taylor remained firm to the national cause of holding the Union together. For this he was willing to take up the sword rather than compromise.

Taylor’s informal behaviour made him popular with the North while the Southerners were lured to him because he himself owned 100 slaves. Taylor however remained uncommitted although he got the Whig nomination. But Taylor was too strong minded to remain a puppet of the party. He ran the administration as he had handled the army – by rule of thumb. He declared that the people could decide on the slavery issue when they drew up new constitutions for the state.

The Southerners were furious while the Congress felt that the President was riding rough shod over them. Taylor considered himself to be independent. He disliked the stand of the Democrats on the financial matters and wanted a strong and sound banking system. On the other side although he owned slaves he did not want further extension of the system. He allied with the Whigs on governing issues. Taylor was a strong nationalist.

Without warning, before Taylor could take strong action against the secessionists he fell ill. A stormy session with southern leaders as well as the attending of the July 4th celebrations in blistering weather suddenly told on his health and he died within five days of illness. Years later war broke out and his only son fought in the Confederate army. The victor of many battles, he finally succumbed to cholera leaving the nation devastated.




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