Thursday, November 15, 2007

Taylor Street

[ at stoney moss started a new series of posts about place names in which she picks something named after a person or an event, researches it and reports on it. She encourages others to give it a try and let her know what they come up with. Here is my first attempt.]

In the town where I grew up, quite a few of the streets were named after presidents. I grew up on Taylor Street and although I knew Taylor was a president, I was heretofore woefully uninterested in learning anything about him. I have remedied that situation. Here is my reader's digest take on the 12th president of the United States.

Zachary Taylor was a career military man, having spent 40 years in the Army. When he was recruited by the Whig Party as a candidate for President, he had never held public office, nor even voted. Known as "Old Rough and Ready" he became famous for his victories in the Mexican-American War.

Elected to office over Democratic candidate, Lewis Cass, and Free Soil Party candidate, Martin Van Buren, he took office in March 1849. He then proceeded to ignore the Whig Party platform and tick off the southern politicians who thought that since Taylor owned slaves, he would always be pro-slavery.

On July 4, 1850, 16 months into his term, President Taylor led ceremonies at the laying of the cornerstone for the Washington Monument. It was hot and humid, and he was very warmly dressed. He fell ill at the event, and never fully recovered. He died on July 9. The cause of his death is listed as Gastroenteritis which may have been caused by cholera or food poisoning. His vice-president, Millard Fillmore became the 13th president of the US.

And as long as we are sharing "fun facts to know and tell" I want to point out that Taylor's 491 days in office was not the shortest time a US President served. No, that dubious distinction goes to William Henry Harrison, 9th President of the US, also a Whig, who took office on March 4, 1841. On that extremely cold and wet day, at the age of 68, he stood without a coat for more than 2 hours reading the longest inaugural address in American history. Harrison then rode in the post-inaugural parade, and subsequently came down with a cold that turned into pneumonia. He died on April 4, just 31 days after taking office.


Rethabile said...

Fascinating facts. I didn't know Whirling Dervish had started sth like that. Let me go over and see.

Poor Harrison!

sister AE said...

Hello, Rethabile. It's an informal kind of thing, but it was a great excuse to go off on a tangent and look things up.

Whirling Dervish said...

Glad to see the ball is rolling! I really like the fact that you took something that we supposedly all know something about (former president of the US) and dug deeper. I had kind of "written off" names like this because I assumed that we all knew who they were- but your post shows me how many interesting details, or different angles, there are to a side.

sister AE said...

Thanks, WD. I did have fun.

Whirling Dervish said...

Hi Sister AE-

After having read most of your blog and poetry the last few days, I really want to learn more from you, so have tagged you!:

If you've already done this (and I just missed it), or if you don't feel like it, don't feel compelled, but would love to hear your thoughts if you have the time/interest..


sister AE said...

Hello, WD. I'll give it a try, but these I'll have to think about a bit - good thing it's the weekend!