12th U.S. President: Zachary Taylor

About the twelfth President of the United States Zachary Taylor, his birth, death, biography, description, facts and quotes.

12th President ZACHARY TAYLOR

Born: November 24, 1784, Orange County, Va. He was a 2nd cousin of President James Madison.

Died: July 9, 1850, in Washington. During 4th of July ceremonies at the partially completed Washington Monument, President Taylor sat for several hours under the blazing summer sun. When he returned to the White House, he cooled off by consuming huge quantities of iced milk and cherries. His doctor pleaded with him to stop, but Taylor went right on eating. That night he was stricken with violent cramps and died 5 days later.

Career: Little education, commissioned army lieutenant at 23, career officer, Indian fighter, promoted to brigadier general. Leading commander in Mexican War, he emerged as a national hero.

Personal Life: Margaret Taylor stoically endured the hardships of an army wife: long separations from her husband, constant moving from place to place, even the death of her 2 youngest children during a malaria epidemic. As First Lady, she was a semi-invalid who refused to attend public functions and remained secluded in her quarters, shivering by the fire.

His Person: Stocky build; 5'8" and 170 lbs.; large head; unusually short legs. Noted for the sloppiness of his military dress, his colorful cursing, and his habit of chewing tobacco. His troops nicknamed him "Old Rough and Ready."

Election: In 1848, the Whigs nominated Taylor for President-despite the fact that the general despised politics and politicians and had never cast a vote in a presidential election in his life. In the campaign, Taylor said nothing, and relied on the split in Democratic ranks to elect him. The "Free Soil" candidate, former President Martin Van Buren, took enough votes away from Democrat Lewis Cass to send Taylor to the White House as a minority President. Taylor won only 47% of the popular vote, but his Electoral College margin was 163 to 127.

Term of Office: March 4, 1849-July 9, 1850 (1 year, 127 days). He was the 2nd President to die in office.

Little-Known Facts: Taylor was several days late in officially acknowledging his presidential nomination, because he had refused to pay 10 cent postage due on his formal letter of notification.

Quotes from Taylor:

"I am a Whig, but not an ultra-Whig."

"The idea that I should become President seems to me too visionary to require a serious answer. It has never entered my head, nor is it likely to enter the head of any sane person."

Quote about Him:

"His nomination is a plot to deprive me of his society and to shorten his life by unnecessary care and responsibility."-Mrs. Zachary Taylor

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