Born near Montebello, Orange County, Virginia. Second cousin to James Madison. He had no formal education. Married to Margaret Mackall Smith on June 18, 1810. They had six children.
In 1808 he was appointed first lieutenant in the 7th Infantry. In 1810 he was promoted to Captain under General William Harrison. On September 4, 1812, his forces defended Fort Harrison against an attack made by 400 Indians under Tecumseh.
In 1845 Taylor was appointed commander of the Army of Occupation of Texas. Taylor established Fort Brown near the present site of Brownsville, Texas. On May 8, 1846, he fought the Mexicans at Palo Alto and defeated a force three times the strength of his own.
Congress honored Taylor with a gold medal by resolution July 16, 1846, for his victory on the Rio Grande. The dies were produced from a portrait by William Carl Brown, modeled by John T. Battin with dies by Franklin Peale. The original (Julian MI-22) was struck in March, 1848. Restrikes were sold by the mint in the 19th century. Modern restrikes (USM 421) were sold by the mint.
In 1846 Taylor engaged the Mexicans at Monterey and achieved victory September 23. Congress honored him again with a gold medal by resolution March 2, 1847, for his victory at Monterey. The same obverse die was used. A new reverse die was cut by James Longacre. The gold medal (Julian MI-23) was struck in May 1848. The Mint produced modern copies (USM 422).
On February 22 and 23, 1847, he engaged the Mexicans at Buena Vista and defeated forces four times the strength of his own. Congress honored him with a third gold medal by resolution May 9, 1848. New dies were prepared. The obverse die was by Salathiel Ellis and Charles Cushing Wright. The reverse die was by F. A. Smith and Wright. By the time the medal could be designed, engraved and struck, Taylor had been elected President. The original gold medal (Julian MI-24) was struck July 4, 1849, after the presidential inauguration. Modern copies (USM 423) were sold by the mint.
Taylor was elected 12th President in 1848 and was inaugurated March 4, 1849. He died of cholera in Washington, D.C., at the White House and was succeeded by Millard Fillmore.
Taylor appears on paper money:
$10 Southbridge Bank, Southbridge, MA
$20 City Bank of New Haven, Connecticut
$20 Bank of Tennessee, Nashville, Tennessee
Taylor appears on a 76 mm Indian Peace Medal (Julian IP-27), a 62 mm medal (Julian IP-28) and a 51 mm medal (Julian IP-29). The obverse was by Henry Kirke Brown. The reverse was the standard die by John Reich. Modern copies of the 76 mm medal are sold by the mint (USM 112). T
aylor appears on the presidential medal (Julian PR- 10). The obverse die had been used on the 62 mm Taylor Indian Peace Medal (Julian IP-28). A new reverse die was used.
The Zachary Taylor presidential dollar coin was released November 19, 2009, and launched on November 24, 2009 at Orange, Virginia. The obverse was designed and sculpted by Don Everhart.
bio: ApCAB; BDEB; DAB; Drake; EAB; Failor; Loubat; NCAB 4; TCBDA; WAB; WWWA-HSource credit: Pete Smith, American Numismatic Biographies