Just finished reading “Zachary Taylor” by John Eisenhower. This book was significantly shorter than most of the biography I have read this year. One of the reasons for this is that most of Zachary Taylor’s personal papers were destroyed in the Civil War. President Taylor’s personal papers were held by his son in Louisiana. Taylor’s son was a confederate officer so the Union soldiers destroyed the house during the war.
One interesting tidbit about Taylor was that he is the one who coined the phrase “First Lady” when he referred to the death of Mrs. Madison.
Zachary Taylor was the second president who died in office. He was also the 3rd President of 5 who gain national name recognition for being a major officer during a time of War (Washington – Revolutionary War, Jackson -1812, Grant – Civil, & Eisenhower – WWII).
Taylor gained national attention at a young age with the Indian wars on the Western Frontier. He was later nicknamed “Old Rough and Ready”. However, he rose to national hero status with the Mexican War. One of the reasons for this is he was less vocal than the other Generals that he was a Whig and as such the Democratic president was more willing for Taylor to be put in the national spotlight.
Taylor was president during the days of three of this nation’s most influential statesmen who never became president, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, and Henry Clay.
It has been said that had he lived, Taylor was possibly the only American who could have kept this nation from the Civil War. That was because he was a Southern president who owned slaves but was against the further expansion of slaves.
As a parting thought, I hear on a regular basis people making claims that the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery and that it had to do with States Rights. Whoever makes these arguments have not read very many biographies of politicians between 1800-1860. The topic of slavery basically dominated the political discussion in this nation for a long time leading up to the Civil War.