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Zachary Taylor
Birth: Nov. 24, 1784
Orange
Orange County
Virginia, USA
Death: Jul. 9, 1850
Washington
District of Columbia
District Of Columbia, USA

US Army Major General, US President. He served as the 12th President of the US from March 1849 until his death in July 1850. Born into a prominent family of planters of English ancestry, his father served as a colonel in the American Revolution. His family migrated west, settling near what is now known as Louisville, Kentucky on the Ohio River. Because there were no formal schools on the Kentucky frontier, he had a sporadic formal education. In May 1808, he joined the US Army, receiving a commission as a 1st lieutenant of the Seventh Infantry Regiment and spent most of the following year in Louisiana. In June 1810 he married Margaret Mackall Smith, the daughter of a prominent Maryland planter family. In November 1810 he was promoted to the rank of captain and the following July he was sent to the Indiana Territory to take control of Fort Knox at present-day Vincennes, Indiana after its commandant had fled. During the War of 1812 he successfully defended Fort Harrison in Indiana Territory from an Indian attack commanded by the Shawnee chief Tecumseh and he gained recognition and received a temporary promotion to the rank of major. In 1815, after the end of the war, he was returned to his permanent rank of captain and he resigned from the Army, only to re-enter it again the following year after gaining a commission as a major. He was placed in command of Fort Howard near present-day Green Bay, Wisconsin and in April 1819 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. After spending the next 5 years in Louisiana he was called to Washington DC to work on an Army committee to consolidate and improve military organization. In May 1828 became commander at Fort Snelling in Minnesota on the northern Mississippi River for a year, and nearby Fort Crawford for a year. In April 1832 he was promoted to the rank of colonel of the 1st Infantry Regiment and participated in the Black Hawk War. By 1837, the 2nd Seminole War was underway when he was directed to Florida. He defeated the Seminole Indians in the Christmas Day Battle of Lake Okeechobee, which was among the largest US-Native American battles of the 19th century. In recognition of his success, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in recognition of his success and in May 1838 he was placed in command of all American troops in Florida, a position he held for the next two years. His reputation as a military leader was growing, and with it, he began to be known as "Old Rough and Ready." In May 1841 he became commander of the 2nd Department of the US Army's Western division that ran west from the Mississippi River and south of the 37th parallel north, with his headquarters in Arkansas. In anticipation of the annexation of the Republic of Texas, which had established independence in 1836, he was sent to Fort Jesup, Louisiana in 1844 to guard against any attempts by Mexico to reclaim the territory. He served there until July 1845, when annexation became imminent, and President James K. Polk directed him to deploy into disputed territory in Texas. He selected a spot at Corpus Christi, and his Army of Occupation encamped there until the following spring in anticipation of a Mexican attack. After the US-Mexican War began in May 1846, he commanded the American forces at the Battle of Palo Alto and the nearby Battle of Resaca de la Palma, defeating the Mexican forces, which greatly outnumbered his own. These victories made him a popular hero, and within weeks he received a brevet promotion to the rank of major general and a formal commendation from Congress. The following September he inflicted heavy casualties upon the Mexican defenders at the Battle of Monterrey and afterwards half of his army joined General Winfield Scott's forces as they besieged Veracruz. When Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna discovered that Taylor had contributed all but 6,000 of his men to the effort, he resolved to take advantage of the situation and attacked with 20,000 men at the Battle of Buena Vista in February 1847 with Taylor's forces prevailing. He remained at Monterrey until November 1847 and he returned to the US and his former command, receiving a hero's welcome in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Having never revealed his political beliefs or previously voted, in 1848 he received the nomination for President as a member of the Whig party and selected New Yorker Millard Fillmore as his Vice Presidential running mate and defeated Lewis Cass, the Democratic candidate and Martin Van Buren, the Free Soil candidate. In January 1849 he resigned his Western Division command and began to form his cabinet. As president, he kept his distance from Congress and his cabinet, even as partisan tensions threatened to divide the country and the debate over the slave status of the large territories claimed in the Mexican War led to threats of secession from Southerners. Despite being a Southerner and a slaveholder himself, he did not push for the expansion of slavery. To avoid the question, he urged settlers in New Mexico and California to bypass the territorial stage and draft constitutions for statehood, setting the stage for the Compromise of 1850. After attending the 1850 July 4th celebration and fund-raising event at the Washington Monument (under construction), he reportedly consumed raw fruit, probably cherries, and iced milk and over the course of the next few days, he became severely ill with an unknown digestive ailment. The identity and source of his illness are the subject of historical speculation. After contracting a fever, he soon died at the age of 65, the 2nd US President to die in office. He was temporarily interred in the Public Vault of the Congressional Cemetery in Washington DC until October 1850 when his body was transported to the Taylor Family plot where his parents were buried, on the old Taylor homestead plantation known as 'Springfield' in Louisville, Kentucky. In May 1926 his remains and those of his wife were moved into their final resting place, the newly constructed Taylor mausoleum nearby. Almost immediately after his death, rumors began to circulate that he was poisoned by pro-slavery Southerners, and similar theories persisted into the 20th century. In the late 1980s Clara Rising, a former professor at University of Florida, persuaded his closest living relative to agree to an exhumation so that his remains could be tested and in June 1991 he was exhumed and transported to the Office of the Kentucky Chief Medical Examiner. Samples of hair, fingernail, and other tissues were removed, and radiological studies were conducted. Neutron activation analysis conducted at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee revealed no evidence of poisoning, as arsenic levels were too low. The analysis concluded he had contracted "cholera morbus, or acute gastroenteritis", as Washington DC had open sewers, and his food or drink may have been contaminated. He was honored with a US postage stamp in 1875, 1938, and 1986, and the Presidential dollar coin in 2009. He was the last US President to own slaves while in office. His youngest child and only son, Richard Taylor, was a Confederate general during the American Civil War and his second child, Sarah Knox Taylor, married future Confederate President Jefferson Davis in 1835 but died of malaria shortly after their marriage. (bio by: William Bjornstad) 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  Richard Lee Taylor (1744 - 1829)
  Sarah Dabney Strother Taylor (1760 - 1822)
 
 Spouse:
  Margaret Mackall Smith Taylor (1788 - 1852)
 
 Children:
  Ann Margaret Mackall Taylor Wood (1811 - 1875)*
  Sarah Knox Taylor Davis (1814 - 1835)*
  Octavia Pannel Taylor (1817 - 1820)*
  Margaret Smith Taylor (1819 - 1820)*
  Mary Elizabeth Taylor Dandridge (1824 - 1909)*
  Richard Taylor (1826 - 1879)*
 
 Siblings:
  Constance Taylor Guess (1766 - 1843)*
  Zachary Taylor (1784 - 1850)
  Elizabeth Lee Taylor Taylor (1792 - 1845)*
  George Taylor (1799 - 1829)*
  Sarah Bailey Taylor Gray (1799 - 1851)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Zachary Taylor National Cemetery
Louisville
Jefferson County
Kentucky, USA
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Jan 01, 2001
Find A Grave Memorial# 1023
Zachary Taylor
Added by: Bobb Edwards
 
Zachary Taylor
Added by: Cory Walker
 
Zachary Taylor
Added by: Cory Walker
 
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- Tom Black
 Added: Nov. 11, 2014
Cousin,thank you for your service to our country on this Veterans Day
- david bowling
 Added: Nov. 11, 2014
God bless you on Veterans Day (early). Rest in Peace.
- Richard S. Barzelogna
 Added: Nov. 9, 2014
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