U.S. Presidents / Zachary Taylor

Zachary Taylor

1784 - 1850

Zachary Taylor

So far as it is possible to be informed, I shall make honesty, capacity, and fidelity indispensable prerequisites to the bestowal of office, and the absence of either of these qualities shall be deemed sufficient cause for removal. Inaugural Address


At the time he became President, Zachary Taylor was the most popular man in America, a hero of the Mexican-American War. However, at a time when Americans were confronting the explosive issue of slavery, he was probably not the right man for the job. Taylor was a wealthy slave owner who held properties in the plantation states of Louisiana, Kentucky, and Mississippi. During his brief time in office—he died only sixteen months after his election—his presidency foundered over the question of whether the national government should permit the spread of slavery to the present-day states of California, New Mexico, and Utah, then newly won from Mexico. His sudden death put Vice President Millard Fillmore into the White House, and Fillmore promptly threw his support behind the Compromise of 1850, canceling out much of the impact of Taylor's presidency.

Fast Facts

Zachary Taylor
near Barboursville, Virginia
"Old Rough and Ready"
June 21, 1810, to Margaret Mackall Smith (1788–1852)
Ann Margaret Mackall (1811–1875), Sarah Knox (1814–1835), Octavia Pannill (1816–1820), Margaret Smith (1819–1820), Mary Elizabeth (1824–1909), Richard (1826–1879)
Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, near Louisville, Kentucky
Michael Holt

Chicago Style

Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia. “Zachary Taylor.” Accessed June 17, 2024. https://millercenter.org/president/taylor.

Professor of History

Michael Holt

Professor Michael Holt is the Langbourne M. Williams Professor of American History, Emeritus at the University of Virginia.