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Taylor, Zachary(zăk`ərē), 1784–1850, 12th President of the United States (1849–50), b. Orange co., Va. He was raised in Kentucky. Taylor joined the army in 1808, became a captain in 1810, and was promoted to major for his defense of Fort Harrison (1812) in the War of 1812. He became a colonel (1832) and served in the Black Hawk War and in the campaigns against the Seminole in Florida, winning the nickname of "Old Rough and Ready." Sent to the Southwest to command the army at the Texas border, Taylor began (1845) to prepare for hostilities with Mexico regarding the annexation of Texas, pushing into disputed territory S of the Nueces River. In the Mexican WarMexican War,
1846–48, armed conflict between the United States and Mexico. Causes
While the immediate cause of the war was the U.S. annexation of Texas (Dec., 1845), other factors had disturbed peaceful relations between the two republics.
..... Click the link for more information. he defeated the Mexicans at Palo AltoPalo Alto,
locality not far from Brownsville, Tex., where the first battle of the Mexican War was fought on May 8, 1846. American troops under Gen. Zachary Taylor defeated a Mexican force led by Gen. Mariano Arista, who retreated to Resaca de la Palma.
..... Click the link for more information. and Resaca de la PalmaResaca de la Palma
, valley, an abandoned bed of the Rio Grande, N of Brownsville, Tex., where the second battle of the Mexican War was fought, May 9, 1846. Mexican troops under Gen.
..... Click the link for more information. , drove them across the Rio Grande, and took Matamoros. Later he forced the surrender of the Mexican stronghold at Monterrey. In 1847 he won the decisive battle of Buena VistaBuena Vista, battle of,
military engagement in the Mexican War, fought Feb. 22–23, 1847. The battle site was just S of Saltillo, Coahuila, in Mexico. Gen. Zachary Taylor, disobeying orders from the U.S. government, had advanced here. Gen.
..... Click the link for more information. in the face of great odds. A popular hero, Taylor was nominated for President on the Whig ticket, was elected, and assumed office in 1849. His nonpartisan tendencies were changed under the influence of Senator William H. Seward, and Taylor was soon a strong supporter of Whig policy. As President, he supported the Wilmot ProvisoWilmot Proviso,
1846, amendment to a bill put before the U.S. House of Representatives during the Mexican War; it provided an appropriation of $2 million to enable President Polk to negotiate a territorial settlement with Mexico.
..... Click the link for more information. , which excluded slavery from all the territory acquired as a result of the Mexican War. He favored rapid admission of both California and New Mexico to the Union and strict limitation of Texas boundary claims. His free-soil views put him in opposition to the measures that were to become the Compromise of 1850Compromise of 1850.
The annexation of Texas to the United States and the gain of new territory by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo at the close of the Mexican War (1848) aggravated the hostility between North and South concerning the question of the extension of slavery into the
..... Click the link for more information. . After charges of corruption were lodged against members of his cabinet, he promised a reorganization, but was stricken with cholera morbus and died on July 9, 1850. He was succeeded by Millard FillmoreFillmore, Millard,
1800–1874, 13th President of the United States (July, 1850–Mar., 1853), b. Locke (now Summer Hill), N.Y. Because he was compelled to work at odd jobs at an early age to earn a living his education was irregular and incomplete.
..... Click the link for more information. .
See biographies by H. Hamilton (2 vol., 1941–51; repr. 2012), B. Dyer (1946, repr. 1967), S. B. McKinley and S. Bent (1946), and K. J. Bauer (1993); E. J. Nichols, Zach Taylor's Little Army (1963).