Old Rough but not Really Ready

Just finished reading a bio of our 12th president, Zachary Taylor written by Jack Bauer, not that Jack Bauer though. I am always fascinated by the things that  draw my interest in my presidential reading ( I’m slightly over halfway,  22 of 43). This is true in a dual way. Number one, I enjoy taking note of how historical figures cross paths with one another. Secondly is how something in every administration can be applied to things that follow in the future.

Taylor was a career military man like a number of other presidents, Harrison, Eisenhower, Grant ( who served under his command) to name  a few. He  was very apolitical and  in fact, when nominated by thhe Whig party in 1848, had never even voted. He scarcely campaigned which turned out well, since he was somewhat intemperate with his  comments and a bit petulant at times.

Let me backtrack a bit because his actual political career lasted only about 2 years from nomination to his untimely death in 1850 , probably from gastroenteritis. He, according to Bauer, was somewhat of a mediocre general, given to a very conservative approach. He had some successes, most due to the efforts of his junior officers, one being his former son-in-law, Jefferson Davis. Nonetheless he moved up through the ranks and became a general and was nicknamed Old Rough and Ready, mainly for his very  plain manner of dress and  identification with his troops/

He seems to have been a compromise candidate to forestall Henry Clay but nonetheless was strongly supported by Lincoln and Robert E Lee.

He won a rather close election and took office as the real Washington outsider, Jimmy Carter to the contrary. He was somewhat unprepared for the office and during his brief tenure had  rather rocky relations with Congress. Recognize anyone in those statements, especially the unprepared part?

He was  somewhat limited intellectually and emotionally. To those of his day, he was an enigma and still remains so today, For me, it is one of those wat if situations. He was elected in large part because a 3rd part candidate ,former president Martin van Buren, siphoned off votes from  Secretary of War Lewis Cass. Had van Buren not run, Cass could very well have won even over a relatively popular general. So, Taylor joins that group who did not win a majority of the votes and   barely won the electoral vote.

And even his victory was scarcely enjoyed since he died at age 66, less than 18 months after taking office.


February 22, 2010 - Posted by | History | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. “Jimmy Carter to the contrary. He was somewhat unprepared for the office”

    How true! The same with Obama no experience!

    Comment by goodtimepolitics | February 24, 2010 | Reply

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