Name: Zachary Taylor
Birth: 24 NOV 1784 in Montebello Plant, Orange Co, Va 1
Death: 9 JUL 1850 in Washington, DC
Occupation: President of US 1849-1850
Reference Number: |
Northerners and Southerners disputed sharply whether the
territories wrested from Mexico should be opened to slavery,
and some Southerners even threatened secession. Standing
firm, Zachary Taylor was prepared to hold the Union together
by armed force rather than by compromise.
Born in Virginia in 1784, he was taken as an infant to Kentucky
and raised on a plantation. He was a career officer in the Army,
but his talk was most often of cotton raising. His home was in
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and he owned a plantation in
But Taylor did not defend slavery or southern sectionalism; 40
years in the Army made him a strong nationalist.
He spent a quarter of a century policing the frontiers against
Indians. In the Mexican War he won major victories at
Monterrey and Buena Vista.
President Polk, disturbed by General Taylor's informal habits of
command and perhaps his Whiggery as well, kept him in
northern Mexico and sent an expedition under Gen. Winfield
Scott to capture Mexico City. Taylor, incensed, thought that "the
battle of Buena Vista opened the road to the city of Mexico and
the halls of Montezuma, that others might revel in them."
"Old Rough and Ready's" homespun ways were political
assets. His long military record would appeal to northerners; his
ownership of 100 slaves would lure southern votes. He had not
committed himself on troublesome issues. The Whigs
nominated him to run against the Democratic candidate, Lewis
Cass, who favored letting the residents of territories decide for
themselves whether they wanted slavery.
In protest against Taylor the slaveholder and Cass the
advocate of "squatter sovereignty," northerners who opposed
extension of slavery into territories formed a Free Soil Party
and nominated Martin Van Buren. In a close election, the Free
Soilers pulled enough votes away from Cass to elect Taylor.
Although Taylor had subscribed to Whig principles of legislative
leadership, he was not inclined to be a puppet of Whig leaders
in Congress. He acted at times as though he were above
parties and politics. As disheveled as always, Taylor tried to run
his administration in the same rule-of-thumb fashion with which
he had fought Indians.
Traditionally, people could decide whether they wanted slavery
when they drew up new state constitutions. Therefore, to end
the dispute over slavery in new areas, Taylor urged settlers in
New Mexico and California to draft constitutions and apply for
statehood, bypassing the territorial stage.
Southerners were furious, since neither state constitution was
likely to permit slavery; Members of Congress were dismayed,
since they felt the President was usurping their policy-making
prerogatives. In addition, Taylor's solution ignored several
acute side issues: the northern dislike of the slave market
operating in the District of Columbia; and the southern
demands for a more stringent fugitive slave law.
In February 1850 President Taylor had held a stormy
conference with southern leaders who threatened secession.
He told them that if necessary to enforce the laws, he
personally would lead the Army. Persons "taken in rebellion
against the Union, he would hang ... with less reluctance than
he had hanged deserters and spies in Mexico." He never
Then events took an unexpected turn. After participating in ceremonies at the
Washington Monument on a blistering July 4, Taylor fell ill; within five days he was dead.
After his death, the forces of compromise triumphed, but the war Taylor had been willing
to face came 11 years later. In it, his only son Richard served as a general in the
Father: Richard Taylor b: 3 APR 1741 in Orange Co, Va
Mother: Sarah Sally Dabney Strother
Margaret Mackall Smith
21 JUN 1810
in Louisville, Ky 1
- Ann Margaret Mackall Taylor
- Sarah Knox Taylor b: 1814
- Octavia Pannill Taylor
- Margaret Smith Taylor
- Mary Elizabeth "Betty" Taylor
- Richard "Dick" Taylor b: 27 JAN 1826 in Lousiville, ky
- Abbrev: Mannan, James Donald //email@example.com
Mannan, James Donald //firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Bluffs/6359/