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Mr. President

Zachary Taylor
Twelth President, 1849–1850

“For more than half a century, during which kingdoms and empires have fallen, this Union has stood unshaken…its dissolution would be the greatest of calamities, and to avert that should be the study of every American. Upon its preservation must depend our own happiness and that of countless generations to come.”

On the Job Training:
Before Zachary Taylor became president, he had never held political office or voted in a national election. Instead, his status as a military leader catapulted him into the White House. His nickname, earned in battles with Mexico, was "Old Rough and Ready." As president, he helped found the Department of the Interior, which protects wildlife and national parks. The major issue of his presidency, however, was slavery. Although he owned slaves himself, Taylor sought above all to preserve the Union. He favored the admission of new western states to the Union even if they outlawed slavery. This outraged Southerners. Taylor died during his second year in office, while the debate over slavery raged on.

Portrait by James Reid Lambdin (attributed) , 1848 . NPG.76.7 , Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery .

Fast Facts
Party: Whig
Date of Birth: Wednesday, November 24, 1784
Date of Death: Tuesday, July 9, 1850
Vice President: Millard Fillmore
First Lady: Margaret Smith Taylor

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