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Taylor (Zachary) Letters
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • Processing Information
  • Related Materials
  • Arrangement
  • Publication Note

  • Contributing Institution: The Huntington Library
    Title: Zachary Taylor letters
    Creator: Taylor, Zachary, 1784-1850
    Identifier/Call Number: mssTaylorz
    Physical Description: 2.34 Linear Feet (2 flat boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1846-1848
    Abstract: This collection consists of letters sent by Zachary Taylor while serving in the U.S. Army during the Mexican-American War from 1846 to 1848, primarily to his brother-in-law, U.S. Army surgeon Robert Crooke Wood.
    Language of Material: Materials are in English.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for use by qualified researchers and by appointment. Please contact Reader Services at the Huntington Library for more information.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Zachary Taylor letters, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Letters to Robert Crooke Wood were purchased from William K. Bixby, 1918. The letter to Edward Kent (1848 July 27) was purchased from George D. Smith, approximately 1920.

    Biographical / Historical

    Zachary Taylor (November 24, 1784-July 9, 1850), the twelfth president of the United States, was born in Orange County, Virginia, the son of a planter and enslaver, and raised in Kentucky. He joined the U.S. Army in 1808 and was made a brevet major in 1812 following a successful defense of Fort Harrison, Indiana against a Native American attack led by the Shawnee chief Tecumseh. Taylor fought in the Black Hawk War in 1832 and against the Seminole Nation in Florida from 1837 to 1838; he commanded Fort Smith in Arkansas from 1841 to 1844. In 1845, Taylor was sent to Texas by President James K. Polk, anticipating conflict with Mexico over the U.S. annexation of Texas and disputes over national boundaries. During the Mexican-American War that followed, Taylor led troops in battles at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, May 1846; Monterrey, September 1846; and Buena Vista, February 1847. He was made a major general during the war, which ended in a U.S. victory with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in February 1848.
    Taylor was elected president in 1848 as a Whig candidate. The potential expansion of slavery into the new U.S. territories acquired from the war was a primary issue of Taylor's presidency, which included statehood questions for California and New Mexico. The failure of sectional compromise marked Taylor's short administration.
    Taylor owned cotton plantations in Louisiana and enslaved around 300 laborers over several decades. In 1810, he married Margaret Mackall Smith; the couple had six children. Taylor died in office of gastroenteritis at age 65.

    Scope and Contents

    This collection consists of letters sent by Zachary Taylor while serving in the U.S. Army during the Mexican-American War from 1846 to 1848, primarily to his brother-in-law, U.S. Army surgeon Robert Crooke Wood (1800?-1869). Letters concern war logistics and strategies; army life; troops movements and health; supplies; General Winfield Scott; the progress of and future projections of the war; and some reportage of battles, especially of the battle of Monterrey in September 1846. Letters also discuss Taylor's presidential prospects and potential nomination in the 1848 race; politics; health; and family, particularly his daughter Ann and her children. All items are autograph letters signed unless noted otherwise.

    Processing Information

    This collection was reprocessed in 2021 by Melissa Haley as part of the American Presidential Papers Project. The items had been assembled physically and arranged chronologically by Huntington Library staff in early- or mid-20th century; material was rehoused during reprocessing. Previously assigned item-level call numbers have been retained. The number of pages for each item is noted in parentheses in item-level Scope and Contents notes. Page count for letters does not include envelopes or addressed covers unless noted otherwise.

    Related Materials

    Mexican War collection, 1829-1848 , mssHM 39428-39461, mssHM 39727-39776, mssHM 41750-41752, mssHM 47536-47537.


    This collection is arranged chronologically.

    Publication Note

    Most of the letters to Robert Crooke Wood were published in William H. Samson, editor, Letters of Zachary Taylor from the Battle-fields of the Mexican War  (Rochester, NY: The Genesee Press, 1908).

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Mexican War, 1846-1848 -- Campaigns -- Mexico
    Mexican War, 1846-1848 -- Sources
    Monterrey, Battle of, Monterrey, Mexico, 1846
    Presidents -- United States -- Election -- 1848
    United States -- Politics and Government -- 1845-1849
    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 19th century
    Scott, Winfield, 1786-1866
    Wood, R. C. (Robert Crooke), 1800-1869