Zachary Taylor— 12th President of the United States —
Researcher: David Maiden
ELECTED FROM: Louisiana
POLITICAL PARTY: Whig
TERM: March 4, 1849 to July 9, 1850
BORN: November 24, 1784
BIRTHPLACE: Orange County, Virginia
DIED: July 9, 1850, Washington, D.C.
Buried in Springfield, Kentucky
MARRIED: Margaret Smith, 1810
CHILDREN: Sarah Knox, Richard, Elizabeth, Ann
Zachary Taylor was just eight months old when his family settled on Beargrass Creek, just east of Louisville. He was a hardy youngster. In the early spring of his 17th year, he swam across the Ohio River to the Indiana shore and back again.
He received only the basics of education, and all his life he was a poor speller. He enjoyed the simple pleasures of life while neither smoking nor drinking alcohol.
Taylor was Collector at the port of Louisville, Kentucky. He was commissioned a first lieutenant in 1808. He fought in the War of 1812, the Black Hawk War in 1832, and the Second Seminole War in 1837. His nickname was "Old Rough and Ready."
By then a captain, Taylor defended Fort Harrison during the War of 1812. He temporarily resigned his commission from the Army in 1815 but rejoined in 1816.
After these adventures, he retired to a plantation near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. When President Polk sent him with an army to the Rio Grande in 1848, he was attacked by the Mexican army. President Polk then declared war against the Mexican government. Taylor defeated the Mexican army at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma in 1846, then he occupied Monterrey, Mexico.
President Polk sent many of Taylor's troops to the command of General Winfield Scott. However, Taylor's reduced forces defeated the Mexican General Santa Anna at Buena Vista in 1847. Following these victories, Taylor was considered a hero, and he was nominated by the Whig party in the 1848 election.
Taylor defeated Democrat Lewis Cass and the third party candidate, former president Martin Van Buren, for the presidency.
Taylor, although a slave holder himself, supported the movement to have California admitted to the Union as a free state.
Bibliographic Citation Format:
Author's last name, first name, middle initial. "Title of biography." SPECTRUM Home & School Magazine. [http://www.incwell.com/Spectrum.html] (date accessed). © K. B. Shaw