Hailed as a national hero because of the battles he fought and won gave Zachary Taylor a broader perspective and view of the nation. The United States was developing, and the economy was not the primary concern of the government during his campaign. He aimed to maintain its growth.
His brief time as a president was full of controversies concerning the status of the newly acquired territories, whether it will become a free state or a slave state and the financial incidents of some of his cabinet members.
Zachary Taylor allowed California to draft a constitution that states the legal status of slavery, seek statehood, and bypass the national stage. Many slavery advocates objected to the quick admittance of the new probable Free states, and southerners threatened to secede. It infuriated the president and vowed to lead the troops and attack the rebellious states. He was committed to preserving the Union even if he needs to use force against the states who threatened to secede.
The compromise of 1850 was a proposed package of a bill by Henry Clay; however, Zachary Taylor opposed the said bill.
Zachary Taylor sent the only State of the Union report to Congress in December of 1849. It contains the recap of the international events and many proposals about the adjustment of tariff policy; however, it was overshadowed by a sectional crisis faced by congress.
Another notable policy of Zachary Taylor’s administration was his approval of the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty. It was a treaty between John M. Clayton and Sir Henry Lytton Bulwer in 1850. It established any Central American canal will be open to both British and American ships to reach the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean. It weakened the commitment of the United States to Manifest Destiny. The treaty contains three major provisions: first, neither of the nations can build such a canal without permission and cooperation. Second, neither of the countries would fortify or found new colonies in the region, lastly, as soon as the canal was built, both nation would guarantee it would be available on a neutral basis of shipping. It became a significant step in developing the Anglo-American alliance.
Many members of Zachary Taylor’s cabinet members were under investigation due to alleged corrupt dealings with the Galphin Affair land scandal. It was a dispute settlement over Galphin estate where one of Zachary Taylor’s cabinet members, George W. Crawford, took half of the claim for his interest.
The public outraged after learning the scandal of Galphin estate’s resolution. George Crawford resigned; however, the citizens demanded an investigation but was never punished. He lived off with the money he made from the settlement.
George Galphin was an Irish immigrant and an Indian trader, who claimed a vast land in Georgia. The colonial government took over the Galphin estate after his death during the Revolutionary War. Galphin’s family sought after due compensation for their losses during the war. The litigation lasted for over 70 years until they received financial compensation.
On July 9, 1850, Zachary Taylor unexpectedly died due to cholera. He only served the office for 16 months. Few days before his death, the president attended a festival on July 4 in the newly decorated grounds where Washington Monument would be erected. It was a hot summer, and the president then quenched his thirst and gulped several glasses of water and cherries and iced milk throughout the day.
During that period, cholera outbreaks frequently occurred during the sizzling summer months. The sewage system in Washington was very primitive, which caused the bacteria to be present in water. Based on the autopsy done, the bacteria were present in the water or iced milk that he drank. There are also speculations that cherries became highly acidic combined with fresh milk, which might have caused gastroenteritis.
There were many interesting speculations about Zachary Taylor if he had lived to run for another term. It was clear that he was severely pressured by his political party to replace his cabinet members.
His brief term as the president was not considered to give any strong influence in the office. Many believed that Zachary Taylor was inexperienced with politics and was a puppet of his political party. He had his shortcomings; however, he tried his best to run the nation as Zachary Taylor does when he was on the battlefield, but it does not work that way.
The United States’ post office honored him as they released the first postage stamp issued on June 21, 1875.
Zachary Taylor and his wife’s remains were moved to the Taylor mausoleum located in the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky. The mausoleum was made of limestone with a granite base and marble interior.