Category: US President
Zachary Taylor (1849-1850) emerged as a hero of the Mexican-American War that ended in 1848. Zachary Taylor was the twelfth president of the United States. His Vice President Millard Fillmore succeeded him upon his death.
About the President
Zachary Taylor was nominated for the Presidency because he was a recent war hero, which gave him national appeal, and a slaveholder who supported the continuation of slavery. Zachary Taylor previously fought in the War of 1812 against England to maintain American independence, and President Polk had personally dispatched him to Texas to protect the newly annexed state from Mexico. Zachar Taylor won the Battle of Palo Alto and Battle of Monterey.
He has often ranked as one of the worst presidents in history because his military service left him ill prepared to handle politics. Zachary Taylor had an unclear political platform and little interest in politics. He had been a career officer in the Army, becoming a major general before becoming President.
Major Policies and Actions
Zachary Taylor had little time to do anything because he died only a little after a year in office. He had little involvement with Congress or his Cabinet. While he owned slaves, Zachary Taylor did not push for slave ownership to be made legal in the newly acquired territories like Oregon, California, and Arizona. He pushed these states to become states immediately instead of spending time as territories. Admitting them as states avoided the need for Congress to make the decision of slavery versus free.
Zachary Taylor owned slaves, but he had favored excluding slavery in the Southwest. This was more due to pragmatic reasons, since the arid regions meant labor intense crops like cotton and sugar wouldn’t be grown there. The tensions between the North and South could not have erupted into a Civil War while a strong nationalist, slave-owning president was in power – but Taylor died too soon to make much difference.
Historical Events during His Presidency
The United States before the Mexican American War was almost neatly divided between slave states and free states, in terms of political power. The expansion of the United States by more than a third risked chaos. The South wanted to ensure that slave owning states did not lose their political clout, and thus wanted to ensure that at least half of all new territories or states were slave states. Many in the North wanted to have all territories and new states to be free.
The Compromise of 1850 admitted California as a free state. The Compromise made New Mexico a territory with slavery undecided, though it was unlikely at the time that they would choose to be slaves. Before the Compromise of 1850, New Mexico wanted to be free country, while Texas, which allowed ownership of slaves, wanted to incorporate the area into its territory. Utah Territory became distinct, as well. This compromise only came about after Taylor’s death because those present voted for a compromise to try to avoid civil war than give in to the extremists in their own parties.
The Compromise of 1850 was only possible after his death. As a loyal military hero, Zachary Taylor would not have permitted the secession of slave states. However, Zachary Taylor would not have permitted a compromise that jeopardized the institution, either.
Taylor’s daughter was courted by the future President of the Confederacy, then Lieutenant Jefferson Davis. They did marry, but she died several months later. If she had survived, the daughter of a President of the United States would have been married to the President of the Confederacy