Zachary Taylor photo

Zachary Taylor Event Timeline

March 04, 1849

 Zachary Taylor (12) Event Timeline
03/04/1849 - 07/09/1850


At Whig National Convention, General Zachary Taylor wins the presidential nomination over Henry Clay (1844 Whig nominee) and General Winfield Scott. Congressman Millard Fillmore of NY was nominated for Vice President.


Election Day. Whig candidate General Zachary Taylor defeats Democrat Lewis Cass and former Democratic President Martin Van Buren (candidate of the Free Soil Party). Taylor won 56.2% of the Electoral College and 47.3% of the popular vote. Taylor, at the time of the election still serving in the Army, had been successful in the war with Mexico.  He was the first President with no prior experience in elective or appointive office.



03/01/1849 Incoming President Taylor is reported to have finalized his choices for his Cabinet.
03/04/1849 This date is a Sunday.  Taylor did not take the oath of office until the next day. There is speculation that Taylor is not yet President despite the end of Polk's term. It has been argued that assuming the office is not conditional on taking the oath.


Inaugural Address. Pledges devotion to the “welfare of the whole country, and not to the support of any particular section. . . “ Looks to Congress to adopt measures “of conciliation as may harmonize conflicting interests and tend to perpetuate that Union which should be the paramount object of our hopes and affections.” The inauguration took place on March 5 instead of March 4 because the 4th fell on a Sunday. The Oath of Office was administered by Justice Taney. The Ceremony was on the East Portico of the Capitol.


Proclamation of day of fasting and prayer for cholera victims.

08/09/1849 – 08/24/1849

Speaking tour through Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York.


Proclamation warning US citizens against participating in armed invasion of Cuba.


First Annual State of the Union Message. Commentators were amused by the statement that “We are at peace with all the world, and seek to maintain our cherished relations of amity with the rest of mankind.” Recommends the establishment of “an agricultural bureau” in the Department of the Interior.




In Special Message to the Senate, discusses the statehood of California and New Mexico. (Identical to a message to the House on 01/21/1850) Recommends delaying action on the territories of California and New Mexico pending their expected application for statehood. Taylor suggests this as a way to “avoid the creation of geographical parties and secure the harmony of feeling so necessary to the beneficial action of our political system.”  The expectation was that California and New Mexico would both prohibit slavery (enter as “free states”) which would threaten the balance in Congress on slavery. (See comments of North Carolina Representative Clingman in the Congressional Globe of 01/22/50.) Taylor’s message attempted to finesse the violently divisive issue of slavery in the territories (and future states).  Press reaction was extensive.


In reaction against Taylor’s Message of 01/23/1850, Senator Henry Clay (KY) introduces eight resolutions that eventually formed the Compromise of 1850. (Remarks and resolution text in Congressional Globe.)


Attends the laying of the corner-stone at the Washington Monument in Richmond, VA.  Reported to be the largest procession ever in Richmond.  We are told that the President made a short address but have not located any transcription (New York Herald, 25/02/1850).


Death of John C. Calhoun, Senator from South Carolina, a prominent advocate for states rights and the “Southern Section.”


Around this date newspapers were reporting that Taylor was determined to defeat Clay and his proposed compromise resolutions (e.g., New York Herald).


Submits the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty to the Senate for ratification. The treaty (called a “convention” in official documents) established that neither Britain or the United States would have exclusive control over any future ship canal joining the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in Nicaragua or Panama. The treaty was subsequently widely viewed as ambiguous and a source of controversy. (Link to text of Treaty.)


Ratifies the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty following Senate Ratification on 05/22/1850. (Link to Senate Journal)


Advises the Senate in a Special Message that repeated efforts have been made to organize an invasion of Cuba from the United States.


Special Message informs the Senate that no orders have been issued to the U.S. military in Santa Fe concerning a boundary dispute between Texas and New Mexico. Taylor notes that the territory in question is a possession of the United States.


“Nashville Convention” meets to organize the Southern opposition to the attempt to exclude slavery from the new territories that had been won from Mexico.  [Link to scholarly article about the Convention.]


Attends 4th of July celebrations at the Washington Monument under construction near the White House. The weather is very hot. Upon return to White House consumed quantities of iced water and/or milk and fresh vegetables which was followed later by a gastrointestinal illness at the time called “cholera morbus.”


Signs a Proclamation announcing the ratification of the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty.


Dies of gastroenteritis.


Vice President Millard Fillmore sworn in as President in the House chambers.


Taylor’s funeral was in the White House East Room, followed by a procession to the Congressional Cemetery.  His body was later relocated to Louisville, KY.

The House and Senate agreed that "the two houses of Congress assemble in their respective chambers on Saturday next at 11 o'clock, and thence move in joint procession to the President's House. That the chambers of the two House be hung in black, and tha the members wear the usual badges of mourning."


Last revised 3/15/2024.

Zachary Taylor, Zachary Taylor Event Timeline Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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