Zachary Taylor

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Zachary Taylor

Zachary Taylor (November 24, 1784July 9, 1850), also known as "Old Rough and Ready," was the twelfth president of the United States, serving from 1849 to 1850. Taylor was noted for his extensive military career, becoming the first president not previously elected to any other public office. He was the second president to die in office.


  • In conclusion I congratulate you, my fellow-citizens, upon the high state of prosperity to which the goodness of Divine Providence has conducted our common country. Let us invoke a continuance of the same protecting care which has led us from small beginnings to the eminence we this day occupy.
    • Inaugural Address (March 5, 1849).


  • (Regarding the Compromise of 1850) Relying on the assurances of distinguished southern statesmen that the North was "aggressive," and that the "compromises of the Constitution" were in danger, [Taylor] had written a letter to his son-in-law, Jefferson Davis, saying that he was ready to stand with the South in maintaining all the guarantees of the Constitution; but that since it had become his duty to look carefully into the merits of the controversy, he had satisfied himself that the exactions and purposes of the South were intolerant and revolutionary. He added that he regarded Davis as the chief conspirator in the scheme which [Robert] Toombs, [Thomas Lanier] Clingman, and [Alexander H.] Stephens had enunciated.
    • As recounted in Life of Thurlow Weed, including his autobiography and a memoir (1884). Volume II, page 177.

Quotes about Taylor[edit]

  • Zachary Taylor stubbornly fought for his position, even if it meant a conflagration that could lead to civil war. Despite being a southerner, he was prepared to blockade major ports in the South if the southerners subverted the laws. If that didn't work, he would go a step further and send troops into New Mexico to repel an attack from Texas. Had he survived, he would have fought vehemently to oppose the Compromise of 1850 and he wold have fought vehemently to oppose the Compromise of 1850 and it is hard to imagine he would not have vetoed at least some portion of it, whether packaged as an omnibus bill or pushed as individual pieces of legislation, particularly the Fugitive Slave Act.
    • Jared Cohen, Accidental Presidents: Eight Men Who Changed America (2019), p. 81
  • By all accounts, Taylor was genuinely warm, open, and plainspoken. He was said to be a bit shy before new acquaintances but warmed readily. He stammered occasionally and thought carefully before speaking. Far from being the unmannerly boor that his long years in the military and careless dress led many to expect, he was, according to biographer Holman Hamilton, "a gentleman, inherently gracious, even gallant where women were concerned, and an affable and agreeable host... true to the Virginia-Kentucky tradition of unstudied manliness."
    • William A. DeGregorio, The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents (1984), p. 175

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