Zachary Taylor (November 24, 1784 – July 9, 1850) was the 12th President of the United States (1849-1850) and an American military leader. Initially uninterested in politics, Taylor nonetheless ran as a Whig in the 1848 presidential election, defeating Lewis Cass. Taylor was the last President to hold slaves while in office, and the last Whig to win a presidential election.
Known as "Old Rough and Ready," Taylor had a forty-year military career in the United States Army, serving in the War of 1812, the Black Hawk War, and the Second Seminole War. He achieved fame leading American troops to victory in the Battle of Palo Alto and the Battle of Monterrey during the Mexican–American War. As president, Taylor angered many Southerners by taking a moderate stance on the issue of slavery. He urged settlers in New Mexico and California to bypass the territorial stage and draft constitutions for statehood, setting the stage for the Compromise of 1850. Taylor died just 16 months into his term, the third shortest tenure of any President. He is thought to have died of gastroenteritis. Only Presidents William Henry Harrison and James Garfield served less time. Taylor was succeeded by his Vice President, Millard Fillmore.