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Golden Nuggets from U. S. History

The Blue Quill Series
Concord Learning Systems


Zachary Taylor's Unusual Family

Zachary Taylor, "Old Rough and Ready," was one of Ulysses S Grant's commanders during the Mexican-American War and was the 12th President, from March 5, 1849 to July 9, 1850. He died in office.

Two of his children made notable notes in history.

Taylor was born November 24, 1784 near Barboursville, Virginia and raised on a plantation in Kentucky. His father was Lieutenant Colonel Richard Taylor. In addition to the Mexican-American War, Taylor had served in the War of 1812 and in fact, was the only President to serve in both of those wars. He spent more than forty years in the military rising to the rank of major general. During his army career he made his home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and owned a plantation with 100 slaves in Mississippi.

He married Margaret Mackall Smith (1788-1852), on June 21, 1810 and they had six children:

Ann Mackall Taylor (1811-75);
Sarah Knox Taylor (1814-35);
Octavia P. Taylor (1816-20);
Margaret Smith Taylor (1819-20);
Mary Elizabeth Taylor (1824-1909);
Richard Taylor (1826-79);

Two daughters married into the military. One of them, Sarah, to a young Lieutenant -- JEFFERSON DAVIS, but she died of malaria three months after the wedding. Taylor could not have envisioned what the future held for his son-in-law.

By the end of his military career he had developed a strong ideology against the expansion of slavery into the territories, i.e., beyond those states where slavery was permitted by the Constitution.

As a strong nationalist President, he urged settlers in New Mexico and California to bypass the territorial stage -- draft constitutions and apply for statehood. This enraged southerners since new state constitutions acceptable to congress were unlikely to allow slavery, and it enraged congress which felt he was usurping their policy-making authority.

In 1850, at a conference with southern leaders who threatened secession, President Taylor promised to personally lead the Army against secessionist and hang them!

After his sudden death on July 9, 1850, a compromise was reached but ironically, just 11 years later his only son, Richard, began service in the Confederate Army and rose to the rank of general!

Philosophos Historia


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