Millard Fillmore’s ascent, July 9, 1850: Death of President Zachary Taylor

July 10, 2015

President Zachary Taylor died on July 9, 1850.  The cause is still not fully clear, but poisoning by arsenic has been ruled out.

What would have happened had Taylor lived?

At the blog of the National Constitution Center, we get a few details of his death and life immediately preceding:

President Zachary Taylor’s death on July 9, 1850 shocked a nation that was in a heated debate about issues that eventually led to the Civil War. But his sudden passing also sidestepped two constitutional crises.

zachary-taylorThe details about how and why President Taylor died are still in dispute today. The president attended a ceremony at the site of the Washington Monument on July 4th on a reportedly hot summer day.

He fell ill soon after with a stomach ailment. His doctors gave him relief medication that included opium and later bled the president. Taylor died five days later at the age of 65.

Officially, he died from cholera morbus, and today, the prevalent theory is that Taylor suffered from gastroenteritis, an illness exacerbated by poor sanitary conditions in Washington.

There are other theories, including one where Taylor was poisoned by people who supported the South’s pro-slavery position. (In recent years, Taylor’s body was exhumed and a small, non-lethal amount of arsenic was found in samples taken from his corpse.)

It was Taylor’s unexpected opposition to slavery (he was from the South and was the last president to own slaves) that had caused an immediate crisis in 1850.

Taylor ran as a Whig candidate in 1848 and he wasn’t a professional politician. Taylor was a career military man and a hero in the war with Mexico.

Once he took office in March 1849, it became clear that Taylor, the military man, was more interested in preserving the Union than the art of politics.

Taylor decided to press for statehood for the newly acquired territories of California and New Mexico, and to let the regions hold their own constitutional conventions. This guaranteed that California and New Mexico would join the Union as anti-slavery states, tipping the balance in the Senate to the North.

[more at the blog site]

In any case, Taylor died on July 9.

And on July 10, 1850, his vice president, Millard Fillmore, was sworn in as president.

No, that doesn’t mean the bathtub tale is true.

More:

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.


July 9, 1850: Death of President Zachary Taylor; cue Millard Fillmore

July 9, 2014

President Zachary Taylor died on July 9, 1850.  The cause is still not fully clear, but poisoning by arsenic has been ruled out.

What would have happened had Taylor lived?

At the blog of the National Constitution Center, we get a few details of his death and life immediately preceding:

President Zachary Taylor’s death on July 9, 1850 shocked a nation that was in a heated debate about issues that eventually led to the Civil War. But his sudden passing also sidestepped two constitutional crises.

zachary-taylorThe details about how and why President Taylor died are still in dispute today. The president attended a ceremony at the site of the Washington Monument on July 4th on a reportedly hot summer day.

He fell ill soon after with a stomach ailment. His doctors gave him relief medication that included opium and later bled the president. Taylor died five days later at the age of 65.

Officially, he died from cholera morbus, and today, the prevalent theory is that Taylor suffered from gastroenteritis, an illness exacerbated by poor sanitary conditions in Washington.

There are other theories, including one where Taylor was poisoned by people who supported the South’s pro-slavery position. (In recent years, Taylor’s body was exhumed and a small, non-lethal amount of arsenic was found in samples taken from his corpse.)

It was Taylor’s unexpected opposition to slavery (he was from the South and was the last president to own slaves) that had caused an immediate crisis in 1850.

Taylor ran as a Whig candidate in 1848 and he wasn’t a professional politician. Taylor was a career military man and a hero in the war with Mexico.

Once he took office in March 1849, it became clear that Taylor, the military man, was more interested in preserving the Union than the art of politics.

Taylor decided to press for statehood for the newly acquitted territories of California and New Mexico, and to let the regions hold their own constitutional conventions. This guaranteed that California and New Mexico would join the Union as anti-slavery states, tipping the balance in the Senate to the North.

[more at the blog site]

In any case, Taylor died on July 9.

And on July 10, 1850, his vice president, Millard Fillmore, was sworn in as president.

No, that doesn’t mean the bathtub tale is true.

More:


Millard Fillmore in 1848

January 15, 2011

From a flyer or something published for the 1848 presidential campaign, images of the Whig Party ticket, Zachary Taylor for president and Millard Fillmore for vice president:

Campaign flyer for Taylor/Fillmore Whig ticket, 1848 - NY Public Library image

"Zachary Taylor, People's candidate for president; Millard Fillmore, Whig candidate for vice president"

We probably shouldn’t read anything into Taylor’s being identified as the “People’s Candidate” and Fillmore’s being identified as the “Whig Candidate.”  Probably just the copy writer’s way of not sounding redundant.

Found it at the massive digital image collection of the New York Public Library.  Image details from the NYPL:

Image Title:  Millard Fillmore.

Source: Print Collection portrait file. / F / Millard Fillmore. / Portraits.

Location: Stephen A. Schwarzman Building / Print Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs

Digital ID: 1234729

Record ID: 583391

Digital Item Published: 12-8-2004; updated 6-25-2010

Image Title

:  Millard Fillmore.

 

Source

: Print Collection portrait file. / F / Millard Fillmore. / Portraits.

 

Location

: Stephen A. Schwarzman Building / Print Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs

 

Digital ID

: 1234729

 

Record ID

: 583391

 

Digital Item Published

: 12-8-2004; updated 6-25-2010


Zachary Taylor’s death, and Millard Fillmore’s ascendance to the presidency — in detail

July 17, 2009

Elektratig recounts President Zachary Taylor’s death, and Millard Fillmore’s swearing in as the 13th president, in deeper and more interesting detail than I had.

Bookmark that site, social studies teachers: It’s a great site for details on Millard Fillmore that your students won’t find easily anywhere else — and on Zachary Taylor, and on politics and history in general in the two decades prior to the Civil War.  Go see:  “Zachary Taylor is no more!”


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