Zachary Taylor

Zachary Taylor (zăk´ərē), 1784–1850, 12th President of the United States (1849–50), b. Orange co., Va. He was raised in Kentucky. Taylor joined the army in 1808, became a captain in 1810, and was promoted to major for his defense of Fort Harrison (1812) in the War of 1812. He became a colonel (1832) and served in the Black Hawk War and in the campaigns against the Seminole in Florida, winning the nickname of "Old Rough and Ready." Sent to the Southwest to command the army at the Texas border, Taylor began (1845) to prepare for hostilities with Mexico regarding the annexation of Texas, pushing into disputed territory S of the Nueces River. In the Mexican War he defeated the Mexicans at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, drove them across the Rio Grande, and took Matamoros. Later he forced the surrender of the Mexican stronghold at Monterrey. In 1847 he won the decisive battle of Buena Vista in the face of great odds. A popular hero, Taylor was nominated for President on the Whig ticket, was elected, and assumed office in 1849. His nonpartisan tendencies were changed under the influence of Senator William H. Seward, and Taylor was soon a strong supporter of Whig policy. As President, he supported the Wilmot Proviso, which excluded slavery from all the territory acquired as a result of the Mexican War. He favored rapid admission of both California and New Mexico to the Union and strict limitation of Texas boundary claims. His free-soil views put him in opposition to the measures that were to become the Compromise of 1850. After charges of corruption were lodged against members of his cabinet, he promised a reorganization, but was stricken with cholera morbus and died on July 9, 1850. He was succeeded by Millard Fillmore.

See biographies by H. Hamilton (2 vol., 1941–51; repr. 2012), B. Dyer (1946, repr. 1967), S. B. McKinley and S. Bent (1946), and K. J. Bauer (1993); E. J. Nichols, Zach Taylor's Little Army (1963).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Zachary Taylor: Selected full-text books and articles

Zachary Taylor Inaugurated as 12th President of the USA By Cavendish, Richard History Today, Vol. 49, No. 3, March 1999
Presidential Anecdotes By Paul F. Boller Jr Oxford University Press, 1996 (Revised edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Twelve "Zachary Taylor 1849-50"
FREE! The Whig Party in Pennsylvania By Henry R. Mueller Columbia University, vol.1, 1922
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Zachary Taylor begins on p. 143
Texas, New Mexico, and the Compromise of 1850: Boundary Dispute & Sectional Crisis By Mark J. Stegmaier Kent State University Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Zachary Taylor begins on p. 85
Slavery and the American West: The Eclipse of Manifest Destiny and the Coming of the Civil War By Michael A. Morrison University of North Carolina Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Zachary Taylor begins on p. 88
Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era By James M. McPherson Oxford University Press, 1988
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Zachary Taylor begins on p. 59
The Self-Inflicted Wound: Southern Politics in the Nineteenth Century By Robert F. Durden University Press of Kentucky, 1985
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Zachary Taylor begins on p. 57
The Year of Decision, 1846 By Bernard Devoto Little, Brown, 1943
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Zachary Taylor begins on p. 14
Facts about the Presidents: A Compilation of Biographical and Historical Data By Joseph Nashan Kane H. W. Wilson, 1959
Librarian’s tip: "Zachary Taylor: 12th President" begins on p. 83
Encyclopedia of American Parties, Campaigns, and Elections By William C. Binning; Larry E. Esterly; Paul A. Sracic Greenwood Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "Taylor, Zachary (1784-1850)" begins on p. 403
Richard Taylor, Soldier Prince of Dixie By T. Michael Parrish University of North Carolina Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. One "Young Southern Prince"
Essays on the Mexican War By Wayne Cutler Texas A&M University Press, 1986
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Zachary Taylor begins on p. 34
How America Fought Its Wars: Military Strategy from the American Revolution to the Civil War By Victor Brooks; Robert Hohwald Combined Publishing, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Zachary Taylor begins on p. 236
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