Zachary Taylor
by R.D. Monroe, Ph.D.


Zachary Taylor (1784-1850) was born in Orange County, Virginia, but he was raised in Kentucky and received a rudimentary education at home. Taylor joined the army in 1802 and spent years in frontier posts, fighting in the nasty wars that opened territory for white settlement. His men called him "Old Rough and Ready" for his unpretentiousness and penchant for plain dress. He achieved national fame in the Mexican War for his victories at Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palma, Monterey, and Buena Vista. A career army officer, he had never voted but found himself drafted for president by a group of young Whig politicians. Taylor had presidential aspirations in the wake of his war fame, and he was selected as the Whig candidate, defeating Lewis Cass and Martin Van Buren in 1848. As president, Taylor struggled with the sectional tensions that emerged with territorial expansion. While a compromise effort was underway in Congress, Taylor died at the White House on July 9, 1850.


Read the campaign biography:
Frost, John. Life of Major General Zachary Taylor with Notices of the War in New Mexico, California, and in Southern Mexico; and Biographical Sketches of Officers Who Have Distinguished Themselves in the War With Mexico. New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1847.