Victory At Palo Alto

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.

[Zachary Taylor, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing left] / Brady, N.Y. Mathew B. Brady, photographer, 1849. Prints & Photographs Division
Union / Strong, N.Y., Thomas W. Strong, engraver, 1848. Cartoon Prints, American. Prints & Photographs Division

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.

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  • The Zachary Taylor Papers 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.
  • A Guide to the Mexican War compiles links to digital materials related to the Mexican War that are available throughout the Library of Congress Web site.
  • 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.
  • Search the collections of the Library’s Prints & Photographs Division to find more than one hundred images related to Zachary Taylor.
  • Zachary Taylor: A Resource Guide compiles links to digital materials related to Taylor such as manuscripts, letters, broadsides, government documents, and images that are available throughout the Library of Congress Web site.

Coca-Cola

Dr. John S. Pemberton, a pharmacist and inventor of patent medicines, sold the first Coca-Cola on May 8, 1886, at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia. Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, coined the name and it is his handwriting we recognize as the Coca-Cola trademark. Originally marketed as a tonic, the drink contained extracts of coca leaf, which includes cocaine, as well as the caffeine-rich kola nut.

We Ought To Serve A Little Something.
Any Coca-Cola ‘Round Here?

“A Happy Family.” Rev. T.A. Snyder, interviewee; Mattie Jones, interviewer; West Columbia, SC, 1939. American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1940. Manuscript Division

Drink Coca-Cola 5 cents. [189-]. Popular Graphic Arts. Prints & Photographs Division

By the late 1890s, Coca-Cola was one of America’s most popular fountain drinks. With another Atlanta pharmacist, Asa Griggs Candler, at the helm, The Coca-Cola Company’s servings of the beverage increased from one million to one hundred million between 1890 and 1900. Advertising was an important factor in Pemberton and Candler’s success, and by the turn of the century, the drink was sold across the United States and Canada. Around the same time, the company began selling syrup to independent bottling companies licensed to sell the drink. Even today, the U.S. soft-drink industry is organized on this principle.

Until the 1960s, both small town and big city dwellers enjoyed carbonated beverages at the local soda fountain or ice cream parlor. Often housed in the drug store, the soda fountain counter served as a meeting place for people of all ages. Often combined with lunch counters, the soda fountain declined in popularity as commercial ice cream, bottled soft drinks, and fast food restaurants came to the fore.

Soda Fountain. ca. 1900. The South Texas Border, 1900-1920: Photographs from the Robert Runyon Collection External
Natchez, Miss.. Marion Post Wolcott, photographer, Natchez, Mississippi, August 1940. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Color Photographs. Prints & Photographs Division.

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