The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 51, July 1947 - April, 1948 Page: 280
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
army achievements deserve a relatively extensive treatment, but
his political career as a President in a most critical time deserves
careful analysis. Those two primary phases of Taylor's life, along
with his experience as a planter, are prudently balanced and
blended in this biography.
A variety of letters, diaries, memoirs, newspaper items, and
other implementing sources were used extensively and judiciously
and carefully cited in presenting and effectively evaluating "Old
Taylor's father, a Virginia colonel of the Revolution, moved
to Kentucky, near Louisville, in 1785, the year following the
birth of Zachary. The future President of the United States grew
to manhood in that frontier community. In 18o8 he was com-
missioned second lieutenant in the army. During the next forty
years, while progressing gradually to the rank of major general,
he was stationed at practically every army fort and post in the
West and South. He served with distinction in the War of 1812,
the Black Hawk War, the Second Seminole War, and in the
Mexican War. While Taylor can not be considered a master of
military tactics or strategy, he must be credited with being a
courageous and self-reliant officer and a rigid disciplinarian. His
successes at Monterrey and Buena Vista, along with earlier In-
dian war exploits, gave him the military reputation that the
Whigs were to utilize successfully in the campaign of 1848.
Taylor's army career interfered with his personal management
of his Mississippi and Louisiana plantations. This handicap was
probably responsible for his farming operations being only fairly
successful. Taylor's personal management, however, would not
have prevented the low cotton prices, floods, and bad crop sea-
sons of the time.
The author reveals Taylor, the candidate and President, as an
inexperienced politician and a hapless executive. One is reminded
of Grant, who rivals him for the unhappy distinction of being
the least experienced among the Presidents. His letters before
and during the campaign were often inconsistent or contradic-
tory and caused his political friends and leading Whigs consid-
erable embarrassment. As a self-styled nonpartisan President, he
removed numerous Democrats from the civil service in order to
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 51, July 1947 - April, 1948, periodical, 1948; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101119/m1/348/: accessed January 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.