Zachary Taylor – 1850

Taylor’s birth:  Zachary Taylor, the general who rode into the White House in the 1848 election based on his victories in Mexican-American War, was born on November 24, 1784, making him the third president born after the Revolutionary War peace treaty was signed in 1783.  The first president born after the Revolutionary War was John Tyler (born 1790) and the second one was James Polk (born in 1795).

Related to James Madison:  Taylor’s election ended up keeping the presidency within the broader presidential family as his second cousin was none other than our 4th president, James Madison.

Was Senator Atchison President for one day?  Curiously, March 4, 1849, the date when Taylor should have been inaugurated fell on a Sunday, so Taylor was not sworn into office until Monday, March 5.  President James Polk’s term of office technically ended at noon on March 4.  So who was president after Polk and before Taylor’s oath of office?  Some people have argued that Senator David Rice Atchison of Missouri, elected as president pro tempore of the Senate was actually president for this period of time.  Polk’s vice president George Mifflin Dallas had resigned as president of the Senate on March 2, 1849.  Atchison’s tombstone states “David Rice Atchison, 1807 – 1886, President of U.S. one day.  Lawyer, statesman and jurist.”

Taylor’s death:  Taylor, who died in office on July 9, 1850, was the second president to die in office, following William Henry Harrison’s demise just nine years earlier.  Taylor was 64 at his death.

Mike Purdy’s Presidential History Blog 
© 2012 by Michael E. Purdy