|Born||November 24, 1784|
|Died||July 9, 1850 (aged 65)|
Zachary Taylor was a military leader before he became 12th President of the United States after James K. Polk. He sympathized with the plight of the Native Americans but fought them hard. Taylor owned about 100 slaves and it’s unclear to the author whether he sympathized with their plight or not. He won a decisive military victory against the Mexicans as a general in the Mexican-American War.
As president he put slave owners against him by failing to introduce harsher laws against fugitive slaves and encouraged settlers in California and New Mexico to draft their constitutions which the slave owners disliked as those two states were unlikely to agree to slavery. Northerners were also angry as nothing was done about slave markets in the District of Columbia. Congress was angry as well as Zachary Taylor insisted on taking some decisions himself that Congressmen felt they should take.
Zachary Taylor died in office with the issue unresolved but his successors worked out a temporary compromise. It’s unclear if anyone could have reconciled the abolitionists and the slavers permanently. Even Lincoln couldn’t reconcile then but could only fight a successful Civil War.
Pros & Cons
- Hero of the Mexican War.
- Believed that Native Americans deserved a right to their own land and rallied for peaceful coexistence.
- Gained the respect of both the Northern and Southern states.
- Urged California and New Mexico to apply for statehood to tip the balance against the slave states.
- Fought hard to keep the country together amidst growing tensions.
- Despite his anti-slavery leanings, his family owned dozens of slaves.
- Despite his pro-Native American stance, he also earned a reputation as an ‘Indian Fighter’.