12 - Zachary Taylor
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Zachary Taylor. Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest Jack Bauer
Old Rough and Ready, the Life and Times of Zachary Taylor Silas McKinley
Zachary Taylor: Soldier in the White House by Holman Hamilton
When Taylor was inaugurated in March 1849, he would not take the Oath of Office on a Sunday. The offices of President and Vice President were vacant at the time, so someone had to be the president, but who? David Rice Atchison, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, was sworn in as president. He did not do much, when asked, he said, "I went to bed. There had been two or three busy nights finishing up the work of the Senate, and I slept most of that Sunday."
Taylor was a second cousin of James Madison, a fourth cousin once removed of Robert E. Lee, and a fourth cousin three times removed of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Taylor spent July 4, 1850, eating cherries and milk at a ceremony at the Washington Monument. He got sick from the heat and died five days later, the second president to die in office.
Taylor, the 12th president of the U.S. didn't vote until he was 62 years old and didn't even vote in his own election because he was a soldier & moved so often he couldn't establish legal residency until he retired.
Taylor refused all postage due correspondences. Because of this, he didn't receive notification of his nomination for president until several days later.
Taylor never held a political office before he was president.
Taylor's daughter, Sarah Knox Taylor, married Jefferson Davis. Taylor said, "I’ll be damned if another daughter of mine will marry into the army!"
Taylor rode his horse sidesaddle whenever he went into battle.
Abraham Lincoln gave the eulogy at his funeral.
Eisenhower was stunned by the comment because he knew Taylor was a slaveowner and because most historians mark his presidency as merely adequate. Because most of Taylor's adult life was spent either as a homeowner or in the military (he was in and out of it--fairly typical for the day), most of the biography centers around Taylor's leadership on the field. Taylor was not a political man, but Eisenhower's assessment is that he was a fast learner in office and a natural mediator, and, had he lived, there would have a significantly different political mood in the period before 1860.
Note of interest: Zachary Taylor first used the term "First Lady" at services for Dollie Madison. It then worked its way into parlance for the wife of the president.
Zachary Taylor isn't usually considered one of the most effective US Presidents. But as John Eisenhower points out in his biography of Taylor, greatness requires interesting times, and there just wasn't all that much interesting happening during Taylor's short presidency. And yet, Eisenhower manages to make Taylor interesting - both as a person and a President.
Taylor lived two lives - one as a Southern gentleman farmer and slave owner and the other as a career military man where he became a national hero in the Mexican-American war. As President, his main concern was in bringing the territory won from Mexico into the US without upsetting the balance between the regional factions threatening to pull apart the Union. Unfortunately, Taylor died of an unknown gastro-intestinal disease before these issues were resolved.
Eisenhower's Zachary Taylor is a well-written, highly recommended biography of a surprisingly interesting man.
Had Zachary Taylor lived, I doubt he could or would have done anything to avoid the Civil War. After the Mexican War, it became an almost unavoidable conflict. If I believed in morality in history, I would say that the Civil War was our punishment for the sin of the Mexican War.
I sort of agree with drneutron's statement that he was an interesting man - I can't help the feeling that he was a bit of a jackass - I found a sobriquet somewhere that tagged him "Old Rough and Ready".
The fact that he was never a Senator or Congressman should not have been a disqualification for election but there were other things that probably should have given voters food for thought had they really known what there was to know: as leader he would place himself in danger unprotected, he never made the effort to vote in any election, he never had committed himself on troublesome issues, he lacked any knowledge of the office for which he had been nominated, he had no idea of who or what Webster, Clay and Calhoun were and his Whiggery was equivocal.
The election of 1848 was a mess of large proportion. The Southern Whigs rubbed their hands with glee as Taylor was a slaveholder, The Democrats were running Lewis Cass on "Squatter Sovereignty", and many Northern voters had no love for slavery in any form so they nominated Martin Van Buren again - this time as a "Free Soiler". Van Buren messed up Cass's numbers so much that the country got Taylor by default.
The one thing that could be considered positive in the subsequent short Taylor administration is that he was for "preserving the union at all hazards" and he would probably have mounted a horse again to do it. His urging of the denizens of California and New Mexico to draft constitutions and apply for statehood angered many, especially in the South, but was full of bull-headed courage.
I wonder what might have been. Perhaps we should ask Harry Turtledove to work on that.
The book I read was Zachary Taylor. Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest by K. Jack Bauer.
It's part of an honest biographer's oeuvre.
My copy is an "American Political Biography" re-publication of the original. APB consider it to be the definitive work on President Taylor.
I'd love to see one of the leatherbound "Library" series. I'll bet they 'feel' good.
Zachary Taylor : Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest
Author: K. Jack Bauer
Read: Jan 17 - Jan 27
Format: Hardback, 327 pages
Source: Public Library Interlibrary Loan
Subject:Presidential Biography, Mexican War
Setting: Texas, Mexico, Washington
Category: Who/What/When/Where/How/Why? - Bios/history
Challenges: 101020, 75 Book, SYLL, USPC
Have you ever heard of Zachary Taylor? Do you recognize the name? Other than having been the President of the United States sometime before Lincoln, would you know anything about him? Would you think that people would elect a man who had never served in an elected office? As I read this book, I was filled with questions about a man who served as the 12th President of the US and no other executive or legislative office.
What makes politicians think that they are qualified to give orders for a military action and what makes military men think that they are qualified to govern? Throughout this book Zachary Taylor faced issues dealing with the orders of the government officials sending orders to him for the military actions whether it was the War of 1812 or the Mexican American War. It is a shame that during a time when communications between the battlefield and Washington took weeks, politicians would make policy changes and send orders which resulted in difficulties for the military leaders to obey without increased dangers and loss of life to the army troops. The biggest question is, did he learn from that situation?
The man was an enigma, that's what the book said. I agree. He appears to be non-partisan in the short time that he served as President. During the election time, he did not campaign, but stated when asked about running for the office " My opinion has always been against elevating a military chief to that position." but that if he was elected he would serve "so as to be President of a nation and not of a party." When the members of the Whig party were drawing him into the election he tried not to step on the toes of any of the major political players and wouldn't answer as to his stance on the issues. He merely said that he would support the decisions of the Congress as long as they did not violate the Constitution.
President Taylor appears to have seen issues in only black or white and only had the ability to use his military training to handle those issues. If he didn't understand or feel qualified to handle a problem, he apparently passed it on to a subordinate. He had no clear plan of what needed to be done when he took office, and he didn't give the impression that he wanted anyone else's ideas either. He ultimately flew by the seat of pants through several issues before his unexpected death.
I was actually looking forward to reading this book about the life of the 12th President of the United States. I knew absolutely nothing about Zachary Taylor and was anxious to find out about the man. The details that were disclosed about his life and activities were many, yet I don't think that I'm really sure of his standings on the issues of the time even after reading this book, the man is still an enigma. I good general yes, president, not sure.
Zachary Taylor by John S.D. Eisenhower **** 9/29/10
This brief biography of our 12th President does an excellent job of giving the basics of Taylor's military career and 16 months in office. The author keeps the reader engaged, giving enough information on events and the personalities involved with them to make sense of, especially, the Mexican-American War and the build-up of tensions over slavery and the possibility of its expansion into new states. Taylor's family life is given only cursory coverage, but Eisenhower, a military historian, certainly knows how to bring battles and troop movements to life even for the non-military minded.
by Holman Hamilton
This book is a look at Taylor's election and short term as President of the United States. It is very much a book of politics, dissecting the political world surrounding the 1848 election. If you're ever tempted to think that America has gone downhill and that our elected officials in times past we're of nobler stock than our current politico's, this book will show that it wasn't the case. Mr. Hamilton shows how Whig politics and Taylor's fame from the Mexican-American war combined to bring him to the White House. He then goes on to document the how Taylor's administration fared both with the issues of the day and the men who were squabbling over them. Also on view is an apparent shift during the controversies of 1850 as both the Democrat and Whig parties began to split along Northern and Southern lines. The book was surprisingly comfortable to read, despite the fact that it was written in 1951 and used a number of words that I really should have looked up. It's very pro-Taylor, of course, but that's about the only thing I can say that comes close to being a complaint.
by John S. D. Eisenhower
This is a short and simple biography of President Taylor, volume twelve of The American Presidents series. (Once again I was unable to pick up a substantial bio that covered a president's entire life. I'll be glad when I get to Lincoln.) General Eisenhower does a pretty good job of covering Taylor's history. The focus of the book is on his military career, especially his actions in the Mexican-American War. Whether that's because Eisenhower himself is a retired General, or because that really was the predominant aspect of Taylor's life, I don't know. Still it's enough to give me a general picture of his life and times.
Regardless, it's done, and I'm afraid I am going to have the same issue with Millard Fillmore...
I finished Zachary Taylor: Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest by K. Jack Bauer and I agree with Terri's comment about not know "if the book was just boring, or if it was boring because it was about a pretty boring person." Although I tend to place more blame on the biographer. Of interesting note, I would hardly have called Zach T. a "Statesman of the Old Southwest". At any rate it's done and I'm off to read about Millard Fillmore.
(As an aside, I avoided the American President's Series book on Taylor due to the poor biographies I read of other presidents, but I'm beginning to wonder if I should given them a second shot.)
I read General Taylor by Oliver Otis Howard which was an ebook. I finished it on the 14th of October of 2013. And honestly, I have no recollection of the can of book it was, sorry. I did not come away with the thought that he was a boring person, so it must have been the book ya'll read.
Reading about Fillmore now, and it is not a boring read at all.