Zachary Taylor was the twelfth United States President (1849-50) and the second to die while in office.
Although he was born in Montebello, Virginia in 1784, he grew up on the Kentucky frontier. He began his military service in 1808. He fought in the War of 1812, the Seminole Wars, and the Mexican War. Conversely, he was nicknamed "Old Rough and Ready" for his plainness of manner and appearance.
He spent over 40 years in the military and was the first President to be elected with no prior experience as politician or statesman. He also was one of the largest slave owners in the South. He and his friends demanded that slavery problems be settled prior to the territories of California and New Mexico becoming states, and if they did not they he threatened to secede from the Union. He went as far as offering his military leadership as head of the army to put down such action.
His threats were not taken lightly as he was considered a military genius as well as a good leader. He wanted the Western States to be able to have slaves as the Southerners. California was admitted to the Union as a free state after the Compromise of 1850 by two great statesmen in the House, Clay and Webster. Today they are considered to be some of the most eloquent debaters ever serve in the House. Taylor did oppose the controversial issue, but died on July 9, 1850 of cholera before the issue was decided.
His Vice President Millard Fillmore succeeded him in office and perpetuated the battle of states' rights while President. Taylor will be remembered as a military leader and for his accomplishments in the many wars he fought rather than as the twelfth President.