ZACHARY TAYLOR, twelfth president of the United States, was born in Orange county, Virginia, September 24, 1784.
His boyhood was spent on his father's plantation and his education was limited. In 1808 he was made lieutenant
of the Seventh Infantry, and joined his regiment at New Orleans. He was promoted to captain in 1810, and commanded
at Fort Harrison, near the present site of Terre Haute; in 1812, where, for his gallant defense, he was brevetted
major, attaining full rank in 1814. In 1815 he retired to an estate near Louisville. In 1816 he re-entered the
army as major, and was promoted to lieutenant colonel and then to colonel. Having for many years been Indian agent
over a large poftion of the western country, he was often required in Washington to give advice and counsel in
matters connected with the Indian bureau. He served through the Black Hawk Indian war of 1832, and in 1837 was
ordered to the command of the army in Florida, where he attacked the Indians in the swamps and brakes, defeated
them and ended the war. He was brevetted brigadier general and made commander in chief of the army in Florida.
He was assigned to the command of the army of the southwest in 1840, but was soon after relieved of it at his request.
He was then stationed at posts in Arkansas. In 1845 he was ordered to prepare to protect and de fend Texas boundaries
from invasion by Mexicans and Indians. On the annexation of Texas he proceeded with one thousand five hundred men
to Corpus Christi, within the disputed territory. After reinforcement he was ordered by the Mexican General Ampudia
to retire beyond the Nueces river, with which order he declined td comply. The battles of Palo Alto and Resaca
de Ia Palma followed, and he crossed the Rio Grande and occupied Matamoras May 18th. He was commissioned major
general for this campaign, and in September he advanced upon the city of Monterey and captured it after a hard
fight. Here he took up winter quarters, and when he was about to resume activity in the spring he was ordered to
send the larger part of his army to reinforce General Scott at Vera Cruz. After leaving garrisons at various points
his army was reduced to about five thousand, mostly fresh recruits. He was attacked by the army of Santa Anna at
Buena Vista, February 22, 1847, and after a severe fight completely routed the Mexicans. He received the thanks
of congress and a gold medal for this victory. He remained in command of the "army of occupation" until
winter, when he returned to the United States.
In 1848 General Taylor was nominated by the Whigs for president. He was elected over his two opponents, Cass and
Van Buren. Great bitterness was developing in the struggle for and against the extension of slavery, and the newly
acquired territory in the west, and the fact that the states were now equally divided on that question, tended.
to increase the feeling. President Taylor favored immediate admission of California with her constitution prohibiting
slavery, and the admission of other states to be formed out of the new territoy as they might elect as they adopted
constitutions from time to time. This policy resulted in the "Omnibus Bill," which afterward passed congress,
though in separate bills; not, however, until after the death of the soldier statesman, which occurred July 9,
1850. One of his daughters became the wife of Jefferson Davis.
A Biographical Record
Of Schuyler County, New York
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
New York and Chicago 1903.
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