About this Collection
The Zachary Taylor Papers, one of twenty-three presidential collections in the Library of Congress Manuscript Division, contains approximately 650 items dating from 1814 to 1931, with the bulk from 1840 to 1861. The collection is made up primarily of general correspondence and family papers of Taylor (1784-1850), with some autobiographical material, business and military records, printed documents, engraved printed portraits, and other miscellany relating chiefly to his presidency (1849-1850); his service as a U.S. Army officer, especially in the 2nd Seminole Indian War; management of his plantations; and settlement of his estate. Also included are materials about property division among the Taylor family and operation of son Richard Taylor’s sugar plantation after President Taylor’s death.
Correspondents include William W. Bliss, John M. Clayton, George Washington Crawford, John J. Crittenden, Jefferson Davis, Thomas Sidney Jesup, Daniel Parker, James K. Polk, E. P. Prentice, Thomas W. Ringgold, Winfield Scott, John C. Spencer, Elizabeth L. Taylor, Hancock Taylor, Joseph P. Taylor, and Richard Taylor.
The Index to the Zachary Taylor Papers, created by the Manuscript Division in 1960 when the bulk of the collection was microfilmed, provides a full list of the correspondents and notes the series number and dates of the items indexed. This information is helpful in finding an individual letter or document in the online version. Additional letters received by the Library after 1960 and located in Series 6 are not represented in the Index to the Zachary Taylor Papers.
Brief History of the Taylor Papers
After President Zachary Taylor’s July 1850 death while serving in office in Washington, the majority of his personal papers and belongings were stored by his widow Margaret Taylor at “Fashion,” the sugar-cane plantation home of his son, Richard Taylor, in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana. The stored items were destroyed or dispersed during the American Civil War, when Richard Taylor served as an officer in the Confederate Army and occupying U.S. troops plundered the Taylor plantation. In subsequent years, scattered extant original documents and copies of originals were gathered from private sources and manuscript dealers. The collection has been acquired over time by the Library of Congress in increments from several sources, by means of gift and purchase, from circa 1904 to the present day. A fuller history of the provenance of the collection was prepared for the Index to the Zachary Taylor Papers and subsequently reproduced in the finding aid (PDF and HTML).
Description of Series
The Zachary Taylor collection is arranged into six series, the first five of which were reproduced in 1960 on 2 reels of microfilm, scans of which comprise the bulk of this online collection. Material added to the collection after the microfilm edition was completed forms Series 6, Additions, the originals of which were scanned for this presentation. A list of the series follows.
Series 1, Autobiographical Account, circa 1826 (Reel 1)
Fifteen-page holograph account of Taylor's life.
Series 2, General Correspondence, 1814-1850 (Reel 1)
Letters and copies of letters by or to Taylor and other documents. Arranged chronologically.
Series 3, Family Papers, 1837-1887 (Reel 2)
Letters, receipts, and other documents reflecting the settlement of Taylor's estate, the life of Richard Taylor (1826-1879), Taylor’s son, and his management of a plantation in Louisiana. Arranged chronologically.
Series 4, Miscellany, 1820-1931 (Reel 2)
Newspaper clippings, a map, pamphlets, and other miscellaneous material.
Series 5, Memorial Volume, 1850 (Reel 2)
Volume in memory of Taylor.
Series 6, Additions, 1820-1863 (Not filmed; scanned from originals)
Correspondence and photocopies of a lithograph, Taylor's will and testament, and an engraved portrait, acquired since the creation of the microfilm edition. Arranged by year of addition and therein alphabetically by type of material. The 1984 Addition includes, among other items, a typescript of Taylor's letter accepting the Whig Party's presidential nomination, January 23, 1848, as well as photocopies of a version of Taylor's will and testament. The 2014 Addition contains one original and one copy of letters written by Taylor to Thomas W. Ringgold, the overseer of Taylor's plantation "Cypress Grove" in Rodney, Mississippi. Also in the 2014 Addition is an 1863 engraved portrait of Taylor, depicting him in uniform as a military officer in the Mexican War.