Zachary Taylor was a military man with little politcal experience. He attempted to have California and New Mexico admitted to the Union without resolving their slave status. He died in office after 16 months. Elected 1848
The Early Years
Zachary Taylor was born in Orange County, Virginia. Taylor received only a rudimentary education. In 1808, he joined the military as a career soldier. Taylor acquitted himself well in the War of 1812, rising to the rank of major. During the Black Hawk War, Taylor rose to the rank of colonel. During the Second Seminole War, Taylor performed successfully and entered the Mexican War in 1846 as a General. He was ordered to advance on or near the Rio Grande and although outnumbered by the Mexicans, he made good use of his superior artillery to defeat the Mexicans. Later in the war, Taylor faced a vastly superior Mexican force led by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana. Despite his being outnumbered, Taylor led his troops to a decisive victory. As a result of his victory over Santa Ana, he became a national hero.
Accomplishments in Office
Taylor's short Presidency was shadowed by the issue that was then dominating all aspects of American national affairs - that of slavery. The immediate issue was the admission of New Mexico and California as states. Taylor confounded his Southern supporters, who had assumed that since the President owned slaves, he would support the pro-slavery position and refuse entry into the union to two states settled by Northerners and likely to be anti-slavery. Taylor recommended that the two territories develop their own constitutions and then request admission based on those constitutions.
When Southern states threatened secession he warned them that he would use all his resources as commander-in- chief to preserve the union. He stated that if they seceded he would track them down like he had the Mexicans, and handle them in the same manner that he had deserters.
The First Family
Father: Richard Taylor
Mother: Sarah Dabney Strother
Wife: Margaret Mackall Smith
Daughters: Ann Mackall, Sarah Knox, Mary Elizabeth
New Mexico & California statehood dilema
Secretary of State: John Clayton
Secretary of Treasury: William Meredith
Secretary of War: George Crawford
Attorney General: Reverdly Johnson
Secretary of Navy: William Preston
Postmaster General: Jacob Collamer
Secretary of Interior: Thomas Ewing
Did You Know?
First President who had not served in Congress or the Continental Congress.
First President to be elected from a state west of the Mississippi.
When Taylor moved into the White House he brought his mount Whitey with him.