Taylor, Zachary

Taylor, Zachary

biographical name


Zachary Taylor, daguerreotype by Mathew B. Brady.—Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (neg. no. LC-USZ62-13012)

(born Nov. 24, 1784, Montebello, Va., U.S.—died July 9, 1850, Washington, D.C.) 12th president of the U.S. (1849–50). He fought in the War of 1812, the Black Hawk War (1832), and the Seminole War in Florida (1835–42), earning the nickname “Old Rough-and-Ready” for his indifference to hardship. Sent to Texas in anticipation of war with Mexico, he defeated the Mexican invaders at the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma (1846). After the Mexican War formally began, he captured Monterrey and granted the Mexican army an eight-week armistice. Displeased, Pres. James K. Polk transferred Taylor's best troops to the command of Winfield Scott to serve in the invasion of Veracruz. Taylor ignored orders to remain in Monterrey and marched south to defeat a large Mexican force at the Battle of Buena Vista (1847). He became a national hero and was nominated as the Whig candidate for president (1848). He defeated Lewis Cass to win the election. His brief term was marked by a controversy over the new territories that produced the Compromise of 1850 and by a scandal involving members of his cabinet. He died, probably of cholera, after only 16 months in office and was succeeded by Millard Fillmore.

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