“I have no private purpose to accomplish, no party objectives to build up, no enemies to punish – nothing to serve but my country.”
Zachary Taylor’s father was an officer in the Revolutionary War and often shared stories about the war with his son. No wonder then, that Taylor became a soldier. Zachary Taylor never went to college but had a long military career. He was a general in the U.S.-Mexican War and became a war hero after winning a battle against an army four times the size of his own.
Taylor had never had any political experience but the Whigs wanted a hero as their candidate and nominated him. Zachary Taylor was a southerner who owned slaves, but as President, he didn’t support slavery. He was more interested in keeping the country united.
- Zachary Taylor was born on November 24, 1784 in Orange County, Virginia.
- Taylor was the 12th President of the United States. He was nicknamed “Old Rough-and-Ready” because of his toughness and his casual military clothes. Instead of wearing polished shoes and a shiny uniform, he preferred old boots and farm clothes.
- Zachary Taylor married Margaret Mackall Smith Taylor in 1810. They had six children.
- Taylor found his role as President difficult. The country was divided over the issue of slavery. Southern states threatened to leave the Union. Taylor said he would personally lead an army against them if they did.
- Taylor didn’t live to find out what would happen with the southern states. He ate iced buttermilk and cherries on the 4th of July which were probably contaminated with bacteria. He died five days later.
Question and Answer
Question: What role did Margaret (Peggy) play in Taylor’s presidency?
Answer: Peggy was a quietly confident homemaker. She followed Taylor throughout his military career, living in forts and rough quarters. As First Lady, Peggy rarely attended social events but cared for the President behind the scenes.
Visit The Whitehouse.org to learn more about Zachary Taylor’s life and Presidency.