History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 to the Mckinley-Bryan Campaign of 1896 - Vol. 1

By James Ford Rhodes | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER II

ZACHARY TAYLOR was inaugurated March 5th, 1849. He was sincerely honest, a man of good judgment, pure morals, great energy, of independent and manly character, and possessed rare moral as well as physical courage. He had little education and many prejudices. But he was in every sense of the word a patriot and nothing of a partisan. Doubt had for a time, indeed, prevailed regarding his political opinions, for he had never voted. The party managers induced him to say, finally, that he was a Whig; but General Taylor at the same time insisted that if elected "he would not be the President of a party, but the President of the whole people."

He was, as we have seen, nominated by the regular Whig convention; but while the campaign was in progress he had discomfited his Northern adherents by accepting the nomination of a Democratic meeting at Charleston, which preferred him to Cass, as he was deemed safer on the slavery question. Taylor was from Louisiana, and owned a large sugar plantation there, with several hundred slaves. As the Whig convention had adopted no declaration of principles, what course the newly-elected President would take on the question of slavery in the territories was problematical. It had, however, been asserted with confidence at the North during the campaign that he would not veto any anti-slavery legislation which should receive the assent of Congress. While the President, in his inaugural address, did not touch upon the question which had distracted the legislature of the country, nevertheless his guarded expressions seemed to indicate that his Northern supporters had fairly outlined his policy.

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