Zachary Taylor Fast Facts

The 12th President of the United States

Zachary Taylor, Twelfth President of the United States
Zachary Taylor, Twelfth President of the United States, Portrait by Mathew Brady.

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-13012 DLC

Zachary Taylor (1784–1850) served as America's 12th president. However, he died after only a little more than a year in office. Learn several important facts about this former U.S president.


November 24, 1784


July 9, 1850

Term of Office

March 4, 1849–July 9, 1850

Number of Terms Elected

One term; Zachary Taylor died after serving a little more than a year in office. Doctors believe his death was caused by cholera morbus contracted from eating a bowl of cherries and drinking a pitcher of iced milk on a hot day. Interestingly, his body was exhumed on June 17, 1991. There was a belief by historians that he might have been poisoned due to his stance against allowing enslavement to extend to the western states. However, the researchers were able to show that he had not, in fact, been poisoned. He was later reburied in his Louisville, Kentucky mausoleum. 

First Lady

Margaret "Peggy" Mackall Smith


"Old Rough and Ready"

Zachary Taylor Quote

"It would be judicious to act with magnanimity towards a prostrate foe."

Major Events While in Office

Zachary Taylor was renowned in the United States before becoming president as a war hero. He had fought in the War of 1812, the Black Hawk War, the Second Seminole War, and the Mexican-American War. In 1848, he was nominated by the Whig Party as its presidential candidate even though he was not present at the convention and had not put his name forward to run. Ironically, he was informed by letter of the nomination. However, he would not pay the postage due and did not actually find out he was the nominee until weeks later.

During his short time as president, the key event that occurred was the passage of the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty between the United States and Great Britain. The treaty dealt with the status of colonization and canals in the countries of Central America. Both countries agreed that from that date on, all canals would indeed be neutral. In addition, both countries stated that they would not colonize any part of Central America. 

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Kelly, Martin. "Zachary Taylor Fast Facts." ThoughtCo, Jan. 5, 2021, Kelly, Martin. (2021, January 5). Zachary Taylor Fast Facts. Retrieved from Kelly, Martin. "Zachary Taylor Fast Facts." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 7, 2023).