19th Century United States President’s Death Is Quite The Mystery

Zachary TaylorI’ll admit, I know very little about President Zachary Taylor — but then, really who does know much about the country’s 12th president? I came across a tidbit about his death while reading American Massacre, and according to the book, when Taylor died, Brigham Young, leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints allegedly rejoiced and said,

Taylor is dead and in Hell…any President of the United States who lifts his finger against this people shall die an untimely death, and go to Hell.

So, I wondered, how did he die?

Taylor, who had been in office for 16 months, attended festivities on the Fourth of July in 1850 at the newly dedicated grounds where the Washington Monument was to be built. While at the event, Taylor ate a ‘large quantity’ of iced cherries and drank iced milk before returning to the White House. At the White House, he consumed several glasses of water. As the day progressed he complained of severe stomach pains.

Five days later he was dead.

Although, doctors listed his cause of death as “cholera morbus,” a term no longer scientifically used, some theorize he died of food poisoning/Salmonella, others say it was a sunstroke (the day was extremely hot and Taylor was dressed to the hilt in black), while others felt the acidity of the cherries combined with the milk did him in.

Regardless, his death most likely postponed the Civil War by 11 years as Taylor,  adamantly opposed to slavery, had vowed to personally lead a military attack against any state threatening to leave the Union.

The Taylor FileWas Taylor Assassinated?
The President’s body was exhumed in the early 1990s due, in part, to the work of novelist Clara Rising who went on to publish The Taylor File: The Mysterious Death of a President. In a New York Times article about the forensic results on Taylor’s body, experts dismissed the possibility of assassination by poisoning due to the low concentration of arsenic in Taylor’s tissues.

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Categories: American History | Tags: , ,

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