Taylor, Zachary (1784–1850)

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Taylor, Zachary (1784–1850)

Zachary Taylor (b. 24 November 1784; d. 9 July 1850), general during the Mexican War and twelfth president of the United States. Taylor, born in Montebello, Virginia, served in the War of 1812 and in various Indian wars in the Midwest and South. Promoted to brigadier general in the Seminole Wars, he was ordered to Texas in 1844 to provide military support for its annexation by the United States. President James Polk ordered him to the Rio Grande in early 1846 to enforce the U.S. claim to the disputed territory north of that river. On 8 and 9 May 1846, Taylor's troops fought skirmishes with the Mexican army commanded by General Mariano Arista. Polk later claimed that these hostilities were the result of a Mexican invasion of U.S. territory and thus justified a declaration of war.

As commander of the Army of the Rio Grande, Taylor invaded Mexico, and fought and defeated a Mexican army commanded by General Antonio López de Santa Anna at Buena Vista, thus securing northern Mexico for the United States. In 1848 he was nominated and elected president. A member of the Whig Party, he opposed slavery in the newly acquired Mexican territories but supported it in the Old South. He died after a short time in office.

See alsoMexico, Wars and Revolutions: Mexican-American War .


Oliver O. Howard, General Taylor (1892).

Justin Harvey Smith, The War with Mexico, 2 vols. (1919).

Brainerd Dyer, Zachary Taylor (1967).

Jack K. Bauer, Zachary Taylor: Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest (1985).

Additional Bibliography

Holt, Michael F. The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Taranto, James, and Leonard Leo. Presidential Leadership: Rating the Best and Worst in the White House. New York: Wall Street Journal Books, 2004.

                     Richard Griswold del Castillo

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Taylor, Zachary (1784–1850)

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