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 War. He died before the Compromise of 1850 resolved these issues, having served just sixteen months in office.
- The Zachary Taylor Papers contain 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 more than 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.