On May 8, 1846, General Zachary Taylor defeated a detachment of the Mexican army in a two-day battle at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma. This victory forced Mexican troops across the Rio Grande River to Matamoros, protecting the newly annexed state of Texas from invasion. Five days later, the United States declared war against Mexico. At the direction of President James K. Polk, General Taylor led American forces on to brilliant victories at Monterrey and Buena Vista.
After a childhood on the Kentucky frontier, Taylor spent most of his adult life in the army. Widely admired for his military prowess, he was elected president on the 1848 Whig ticket. Taylor’s administration was marred by improprieties on the part of cabinet members and controversies surrounding territory acquired by settlement of the Mexican-American War. He died before the Compromise of 1850 resolved these issues, having served just sixteen months in office.
- To see more pictures of the military hero who became the nation’s twelfth president, search on Zachary Taylor in Portraits of the Presidents and First Ladies, 1789-Present as well as in “I Do Solemnly Swear…” Presidential Inaugurations.
- Search the Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress for correspondence relating to Zachary Taylor.
- Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music ca. 1820-1860 contains forty items relating to Zachary Taylor from marches celebrating military victories to music (funeral dirges, songs, and marches) composed on the occasion of his death.
- The South Texas Border, 1900-1920: Photographs from the Robert Runyon Collection External, a collection of over 8,000 items, is a unique visual resource documenting the Lower Rio Grande Valley during the early 1900s. A special presentation The Mexican Revolution: Conflict in Matamoros External revisits Matamoros nearly seventy years after U.S. and Mexican troops skirmished there during the Mexican-American War.
- See the Huexotzinco Codex one of the Top Treasures in the Library of Congress’ American Treasures exhibition. This codex is on amatl, a pre-European paper made in Mesoamerica. It was part of the testimony in a legal case made by Cortes and the Huexotzinco people against representatives of Spain’s colonial government in Mexico and dates to 1531.
- The Nineteenth Century in Print: Periodicals External links to articles on the Mexican War including several from the American Whig Review and specifically The Taylor Anecdote Book.