Andrew Johnson just survived impeachment…

I’m writing this post in the hopes that in the next 24 hours I can finish this biography on Andrew Johnson.  We’re moving tomorrow and I’ll have to return this library book tomorrow morning and then I’m unsure as to when I’ll be able to get my hands on another Presidential biography.  Hopefully President Grant isn’t lost to the chaos of our moving across the state.  But for now:

Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States of America.  He became President in 1865 after the assassination of President Lincoln and barely eked out of impeachment to finish his term in 1869.

The book I read was Andrew Johnson: A Biography by Hans L. Trefousse, said to be the uncontested biography on Johnson and boy is it thorough.

Nicknames: The Tennessee Tailor, Sir Veto, The Grim Presence, Father of the Homestead Act

Quotes: “Legislation can neither be wise nor just which seeks the welfare of a single interest at the expense and to the injury of many and varied interests.”

“I am for my Government with or without slavery, but if either the Government or slavery must perish, I say give me the Government and let the negroes go.”

Here are some facts about our 17th President:

  • he was born on December 29, 1808 in Raleigh, North Carolina as the third child of Jacob and Mary Johnson
  • his father drowned when he was three, presumably from dry drowning, after saving three people from drowning in Hunter’s Mill Pond
  • his father was the city constable
  • he was apprenticed to a tailor in 1818
  • never went to school of any sort
  • was often called poor white trash by Raleigh’s elite and often harassed and beaten by them
  • loved learning and taught himself to read
  • formed his own street gang
  • ran away from his apprenticeship in 1824
  • got a job in a tailor shop in Laurens, South Carolina
  • courted a woman named Mary Wood, but her family rejected him because he was poor
  • tried to return to Raleigh and settle up on his apprenticeship but his master refused.  So Johnson went to Tennessee, then Mooresville, Alabama – then returned to Columbia Tennessee
  • moved his entire family to Greenville, Tennessee in 1826
  • met, fell in love with, and married Eliza McCardle
  • Andrew and Eliza married on May 17, 1827 and were married for almost 50 years despite being separated much of the time.  They had five children: Martha (1828), Charles (1830), Mary (1832), Robert (1834), and Andrew Jr or Frank (1852).
  • was a talented tailor, businessman, real estate mogul, and public speaker
  • elected as an alderman of Greenville, Tennessee in 1829 and 1830, then elected mayor in 1834
  • joined the Tennessee militia but was court martialed out in 1831
  • was elected to the TN state legislature in 1835
  • declared himself to the Democratic party in 1837
  • was strongly anti-railroad for the first half of his political career
  • infamous for making strong personal verbal attacks on his political opponents, to the point where he was once challenged to a duel
  • served in the TN House of Representatives in 1843
  • was a staunch defender of the poor
  • hated government spending and constantly fought against it
  • established a newspaper called the “Greenville Spy”
  • was a devoted member of the Masons
  • fought for 3 terms to get the Homestead Bill passed
  • elected governor of TN in 1853
  • had strong Jeffersonian politics his entire life (pro-farmer/agrarian economy, opposition to aristocracy)
  • missed his daughter, Martha’s wedding in 1855 because of his gubernatorial duties
  • arranged for several liberated slave families to be returned to Africa
  • nearly died in a fire at the Nashville Inn in 1856 while helping a woman escape
  • was instrumental in destroying the Know-Nothing/American party
  • in 1857, was in a train crash on his way to Atlanta that crushed part of his right arm, it bothered him the remainder of his life
  • was elected to the Senate in 1857
  • visited his wife only once while he was a Senator
  • during his Senate term, the Senate moved to their new chambers
  • fought to get his son, Robert, elected to the TN state legislature
  • worked to be a Presidential candidate in 1860, but his party (The Democrats) chose Stephen Douglass instead
  • his son Charles was a serious alcoholic, his son Robert also struggled with it
  • took a moderate position against secession in 1860
  • after secession began in the southern states, he was attacked and nearly lynched by two separate mobs on his way home to TN
  • campaigned tirelessly against a secession from TN, and was successful in his home half of the state
  • had to flee the state because of his Unionist views and leave his family behind, where they were persecuted and ridiculed – some even killed for his anti secession beliefs
  • was the only Senator from a seceding state to remain loyal to the Union, which helped get him on the Presidential ticket as Lincoln’s Vice President in 1864
  • pleaded with President Lincoln to send troops to “save” East TN, where his followers were being harassed
  • joined the Joint Committee on the Conduct of War to try and get support for military involvement from the Union in TN – it actually became a radical propaganda agency
  • his family barely managed to escape through Confederate Army lines to be reunited with him – though his daughters and their families stayed behind
  • his house was taken over for a Confederate military hospital and all his property was seized
  • argued to give the President extra wartime powers because of the uniqueness of the situation of the Civil War
  • was appointed military governor of TN by President Lincoln in 1862 after its recapture, and given rank of brigadier general
  • had no mercy for traitors and urged Lincoln to take the same stance
  • took a hardline stance against those who had retained power in confederate TN, including arresting the mayor of Nashville and several ministers, taxing wealthy secessionists, and forced many people to swear an oath to the Union/United States
  • held secessionists hostage and threatened to destroy all secessionist property if the Confederate army so much as fired on Nashville, it was harsh but it worked
  • his wife was expelled from her home in 1862 by Confederates and shuttled around by opposing forces until a proclamation from Governor Harris allowed her to cross front lines safely in TN to be reunited with Johnson
  • raised several regiments for the liberation of East TN by himself
  • despite his anti-traitor stance, he tended to respond favorably to requests from condemned soldiers when they asked for a death sentence commutation
  • supported slavery and was only a Union supporter b/c he hated the thought of Southern aristocracy and the dissolution of the Union
  • signed  petition asking Lincoln to exempt TN from the list of “rebellious states” which Lincoln actually granted, this also protected TN from the Emancipation Proclamation.  Johnson changed his stance on the Proclamation in 1863.
  • favorite foods were hoppingjohn, red rice, wild turkey, pine bark stew, popcorn, and sweet potato pie
  • his son Charles had entered the army as a surgeon and died after falling from his horse in 1863
  • helped raise some of the first black Union regiments
  • after the first elections under his military governorship, he gave the winners their commissions then arrested them for disloyalty and replaced them
  • refused to hold legitimate elections until all of TN was freed, even after President Lincoln ordered him to
  • was selected by President Lincoln as his running mate in 1864 because of 1. his position as a “War Democrat” to represent both sides, 2. his position in TN to affirm its re-entry to the Union, and 3. his overwhelming popularity in the Northern States
  • required anyone voting in TN to take an oath supporting the Union, the Union army, and against any peace with rebels
  • so few TN voters turned out for the 1864 election that Congress refused to count their result
  • attended his own inauguration sick and drunk, after trying to cure his hangover with straight whiskey, where he gave a drunken speech haranguing all the President’s cabinet as aristocrats until he was physically removed by Hannibal Hamlin, Lincoln’s previous VP.  He then proceeded to physically and theatrically kiss the Bible as he took his oath of office
  • he was so humiliated by his performance and following evisceration by the press that he went into seclusion for several days.  It was the only time in his life he was publicly inebriated and after that he was constantly accused of being an alcoholic
  • despite fears that he was a target for assassination after both President Lincoln and Secretary of State Seward were shot, he went alone and unprotected to Lincoln’s side where he was overwhelmed by the intensity of emotion and soon left so people wouldn’t get the impression he was eager for Lincoln to succumb to his wounds
  • was inaugurated as President on April 15, four hours after Lincoln died and publicly stated he felt overwhelmed and not prepared for the office that he had just taken
  • he waited several weeks to move into the White House in order to give Mrs Lincoln ample time to move out without pressure in her time of grief
  • decided to keep Lincoln’s cabinet on, despite being much more radical than they were when it came to Reconstruction
  • was initially friends with Secretary of War Edwin M Stanton, who would eventually betray him and bring about his impeachment
  • immediately called for his family to join him in Washington for appearance’s sake, but they did not reach the White House until June
  • offered a (successful) $100,000 bounty for the apprehension of Jefferson Davis after the Civil War was ended
  • refused to pardon any of the eight conspirators in the assassination of Lincoln, allowing the death sentence to be carried out for four: David Herold, George Atzerodt, Lewis Paine, and Mrs Mary Surratt
  • worked to readmit all the secessionist states without even addressing suffrage for the now freed black men
  • suffered from a lingering illness his first year in office
  • was apt to grant pardons for any Confederate who was willing to swallow his pride and come ask for one, which angered and disgusted many Northerners after his many speeches against leniency for traitors
  • he refused to interfere in states rights to the point that slavery was basically re-instated under different terminology in several states
  • would pardon known secessionists just so they could take offices they were voted in to, and he could claim Reconstruction was coming along
  • effectively presented a weak Northern government, allowing Southern states that had seceded to believe they could get away with the same structure of white power and ignore the necessity for black suffrage, setting up over 100 years of prejudice and racial violence against black freemen as well as a simmering hostility toward the North
  • broke with the Senate in 1866
  • refused to grant black suffrage in the District of Columbia in 1866, and also rebuffed a delegation of free black men, including Frederick Douglass, when they asked for impartial suffrage and told them to go talk to the states
  • gave a speech on Washington’s birthday at the White House, despite being asked not to by his cabinet, that called out people he considered traitors and talking about his own sufferings during the war and his great part in ending it (a blatant over-exaggeration)
  • vetoed the Civil Rights Bill (making everyone born in the US a citizen) because he felt it would adversely affect whites in Southern States, his veto was overridden by the Senate which was turning against him and the Bill was passed in 1866.  He refused to recognize it and publicly stated he wanted to raise funds personally to have it overturned.
  • vetoed a bill in 1866 to make Colorado a state because he believed the Southern states still weren’t adequately represented (Several still hadn’t ratified the 14th Amendment and therefore weren’t fully re-integrated into the Union)
  • vetoed the Freedmen’s Bureau Bill and had his veto overridden that same day
  • most of his cabinet resigned in June 1866, though his biggest enemy, Secretary of War Stanton stayed
  • when he sensed he was losing popularity with the country, he went on an ill-fated speaking tour where he responded harshly and in a humiliating manner to hecklers with personal attacks and non-sensical statements about his popularity
  • after a deadly riot in New Orleans where militiamen and police officers killed nearly 40 men, women, and children indiscriminately, he failed to recognize it and blamed it on a radicalized Congress
  • was so hesitant in addressing the Maximilian Affair (the French tried to invade Mexico) that he was accused of failing to defend the Monroe Doctrine (the US wouldn’t tolerate any European country invading any North or Central American country and would consider it a hostile act towards the US) – the final nail in his coffin with the public
  • because of his inability to alter his views and methodology, the Republicans (the party opposing him) swept most state elections and took most of the seats of Congress in 1866
  • vetoed a bill granting black suffrage in District of Columbia in 1867, stating 1. it would set to strong a precedence for other states and 2. he feared it would make a black majority and threaten white politicians.  His veto was struck down.
  • once again vetoed a bill to admit Colorado into the union in 1867, as well as a bill to admit Nebraska because both territories had populations too small to allow for an elected representative.  Colorado had to wait to become a state, but his veto for Nebraska was overturned.
  • had his power to pardon revoked by Congress because of his liberal policy on pardoning
  • removed 1,655 post masters from their positions in less than six months, most of them for opposing political views.  Congress responded by passing the 1867 Tenure of Office Act (no political officers can be removed from their position unless the Senate consents – this was repealed in 1887).
  • unsuccessfully but vehemently fought the Reconstruction Acts, which placed the Southern states under military control and deployed 20,000 troops to enforce their acceptance of the Bills through martial law
  • movement towards impeachment began in 1866, when Congress began to fear Johnson would again tear the Union apart in trying to protect Southern states rights
  • the first caucus on impeachment met January 5, 1867
  • all inquiries by the Judiciary Committee for impeachment were monitored by Allan Pinkerton, the founder of the detective company
  • when Johnson found out about the committee, he was livid, his health declined (possibly from typhoid) and people feared for his life
  • despite all their disagreements, Johnson and his Senate managed to both approve the purchase of Russian America  (Alaska) in March of 1867 for 7.2 million dollars
  • when his Secretary of War refused to oppose the Reconstruction Acts he finally decided to oust Stanton
  • to circumvent the Tenure of Office Act, Johnson acted while Congress was not in session and suspended Sec. of War Stanton, as well as attempting to remove one of the military commanders he had placed in the South – Philip Sheridan who presided over Louisiana and Texas and was a Union army hero – and thus leaving both states without a head of government at the state level
  • Had a Colonel write a letter to Stanton accepting his resignation, even though Stanton had not offered it.  Stanton obviously rejected the letter.
  • lied about signing the death warrant for Mrs Surratt in the Lincoln assassination case, saying he’d never seen them before, in order to cast suspicion on Stanton and his friends
  • offered Stanton’s job to General U.S. Grant and suspended Stanton on August 12
  • forced through the replacement of both Philip Sheridan and another military general in charge of southern states, Daniel Sickles (North and South Carolina)
  • when Secretary Grant refused to support him in everything, Johnson tried unsuccessfully to replace him with General Sherman
  • the impeachment committee reconvened in November 1867 and voted by a majority of 5-4 that Johnson be impeached on grounds of: pardoning notorious Confederate traitors, profiting from illegal disposal of railroads in Tennessee, defying Congress, and responsibility for the 1866 New Orleans riot, denying Congress’ right to reconstruct the South, and actively working to prevent the ratification of the 14th Amendment.  None of these were indictable crimes and for fear it would cripple the US economy, the resolution fizzled.  They also feared who would take office if Johnson was removed -a radical Republican
  • Congress voted not to concur with Johnson’s removal of Stanton on January 13, 1868 and Stanton resumed his duties as Secretary of War
  • Johnson offered U.S. Grant $10,000 to pay the fine for him illegally continuing to serve as Secretary of War but Grant wisely refused
  • Johnson retaliated at Stanton by instructing everyone to ignore any orders from the War Department
  • constantly fought with Grant trying to get him to return to the office, the letters between them were used in his impeachment process
  • on February 21, 1868, he reached his breaking point and wrote a letter appointing Lorenzo Thomas to the position of Secretary of War, and removing Edwin Stanton, citing that he was acting under the Constitution instead of Congress.  Stanton had Thomas arrested the next day and refused to physically leave his office.  Support from across the country poured in for him.
  • on Sunday, February 23, 1868 the House passed a resolution of impeaching the President on high crimes and misdemeanors by a party vote of 128-47.  Impeachment proceedings began March 30.  Johnson refused to attend his own trial.
  • tried to sway Senators votes in the trial by giving assurances of favors in the future
  • the vote failed to reach a two-thirds majority and Johnson was acquitted
  • despite nearly being impeached, Johnson still hoped and worked toward re-election, with strong support from Southern states
  • after leaving office, he went on a speaking tour promoting his political beliefs and disparaging President Grant.  It was ended by the suicide of his son Robert.
  • tried unsuccessfully to run for a Senate seat
  • was mortified when his daughter Mary mentioned divorcing her second husband, William Brown, so they waited until Johnson died to file for divorce
  • fought rumors of infidelity his entire life
  • contracted cholera during an epidemic that raged through Tennessee in 1873 and nearly died
  • lost $73,000 by investing it in the First National Bank of Washington which went under in 1873 during the first depression
  • ran again for Senate in 1875 and was elected by a single ballot
  • suffered a stroke on July 28, 1875 and refused treatment.  suffered a second stroke on July 30 and passed away at 2:30 in the morning on July 31.



*title taken from Jonathan Coulton’s song “The Presidents”

<—Abraham Lincoln                Ulysses S Grant –>


…Lincoln Saved the Union, then he Died.


Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States of America.

He was elected to two terms, but served only one and a month of the second due to his assassination.

There are a ton of Lincoln biographies out there, obviously.  I ended up going a non-political route and read “Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer” by Fred Kaplan.

Nicknames: Honest Abe, The Great Emancipator, The Ancient One, The Rail-Splitter, Uncle Abraham

Quotes:  “The people – the people – are the rightful masters of both congresses and courts – not to overthrow the constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert it.”

Some facts about President Lincoln:

  • Was born on February 12, 1809 in Hodgenville, Kentucky
  • had a nearly photographic/eidetic memory
  • his father, Thomas Lincoln, was a carpenter and farmer
  • he started school in 1816
  • loved Aesop’s fables
  • had one sister named Sarah
  • grew up in Hardin county, Kentucky until December 1816 when his family moved to Indiana after their Kentucky farm was claimed by a wealthy Philadelphia family
  • he hated slavery his entire life
  • he never shot anything larger than a turkey because he hated killing
  • learned to use an axe clearing timber on their Indiana homestead, became very proficient with it
  • in 1817, his aunt, uncle and 2nd cousin came to live with them
  • his aunt and uncle died of milk sickness (drinking the milk from cows who have ingested poisonous plants)
  • his mother, Nancy, died of the same thing in October 1818
  • a year after his mother’s death, his father married his mother’s best friend – Sally Bush Johnston
  • Sally brought 3 children and several books to the homestead with her
  • Lincoln was an avid reader his entire life, he loved Shakespeare the best
  • he was known as a talented mimic and humorist
  • his education was mostly self-taught through reading
  • he disliked manual labor and instead loved reading, writing and doodling
  • socially awkward and nervous around girls
  • he hated debate and quarreling
  • he hated cruelty of any kind, especially to animals
  • would shadow the local Justice of the Peace to learn about elocution, argument, people, and the law
  • idolized Henry Clay and memorized his speeches
  • in 1820, added Benjamin Franklin and George Washington to his list of heroes
  • he learned all of American history from the book “History of the United States From their First Settlement as Colonies to the Cession of Florida in Eighteen Hundred and Twenty-One” by William Grimshaw
  • Lincoln agreed that whites cheated Native Americans and supported dealing with them fairly, despite disliking them overall b/c his grandfather was murdered by a few in Kentucky
  • left Protestantism in his teen years and became a deist
  • declared in 1828 that he wanted to be President someday
  • he wanted to be important and recognized
  • one of the most defining poems in his life was Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard”
  • he began writing his own poetry in 1824
  • his sister married in 1826 and died in childbirth in 1828, Lincoln was devastated
  • he loved off-color jokes, especially about homosexuality, and was known for his dirty sense of humor
  • he only had 3 courtships in 15 years because he was so nervous around women and scorned marriage after his sister died
  • he left home in 1826 to work poling a ferry up and down the Mississippi River
  • traveled to New Orleans in 1828/1829 on a flatboat he helped build, trading goods along the way and accompanied by his friend Allen Gentry
  • his extended family moved to a large new homestead in Decatur, Illinois when he was 21
  • visited New Orleans again in 1831 and saw the slave market and was pained and disgusted by it
  • became a shop clerk in New Salem, Illinois in 1831, where he met his lifelong best friend, William Green
  • ran for state legislature in 1833 and lost
  • was a captain in the Indian War against the Sac and Black Hawk Native Americans but never engaged in battle or killed anyone
  • became the New Salem postmaster in 1833 and also registered as a land surveyor
  • ran for state legislature again as a Whig in 1834 and won
  • he was talented in math so the IL state legislature assigned him to the Committee of Public Accounts and Expenditures
  • he decided to study law in 1834 and became a lawyer in 1836
  • he met Ann Rutledge, age 19 to his 23 and fell in love with her in 1832
  • was preparing to propose to her when she died in 1835,  he fell into a deep depression
  • while courting Ann, he met Mary Owens – she impressed him with her directness
  • she returned to visit some mutual friends in 1836 and began to treat Lincoln as a suitor, despite his never having expressed an interest in her
  • the majority of their courtship happened through letters
  • he finally felt pressured to propose to her and she rejected him, calling him bad mannered, he suggested they end the courtship and he never heard from her again
  • he helped settle the Illinois state capitol as Springfield, where he eagerly resettled in 1837, partly to escape Mary Owens
  • fought against abolitionism in 1837 in Illinois
  • he often debated Stephen Douglas, who became his nemesis, they first tangled over the National Bank issue
  • was a supporter of the Temperance movement, mostly for political reasons – though he didn’t drink because he liked his head clear
  • he hated alcoholism and public drunkenness
  • in 1839, he met Mary Todd – she was witty, sarcastic, and intelligent with an explosive temper and a spoiled personality…but she had her heart set on being a politician’s wife
  • their relationship was volatile, he went back and forth on whether he actually loved her or could marry her
  • he suffered a nervous breakdown on January 1, 1841 and put himself under a doctor’s care – he also broke off his engagement to Mary Todd
  • in November 1842, he married Mary Todd – though he felt he was coerced into marrying her and from then on arranged his work schedule so they would be apart as much as possible
  • they ended up having 4 sons, only 1 of whom would live to have children of his own: Robert (born in 1843), Edward (1846), Willie (1850), and Thomas or Tad (1953)
  • Lincoln once climbed out the window of a statehouse in an attempt to deprive the legislature of a quorum (the minimum # of statesmen required to make proceedings official)
  • his favorite foods were bacon, fricasseed chicken with biscuits, gingerbread, apples, corn cakes, and oysters
  • he was elected to Congress in 1846
  • in 1849, he tried to pass a bill abolishing slavery in DC but failed
  • he worked hard to get Zachary Taylor elected as president
  • he gave the primary eulogy at President Taylor’s funeral in 1850
  • his second son, Edward Baker, died in February 1850 from tuberculosis – he was 3
  • Lincoln became a railroad lobbyist in 1851
  • he was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1854 on an anti-Kansas-Nebraska Act Whig ticket
  • helped found the Republican Party in 1854 and came out as a member in 1856
  • he was not a gifted extemporaneous speaker and wrote his speeches beforehand
  • was one of only 2 American Presidents to write all of his own speeches and official letters
  • his eldest son, Robert, attended Exeter and Harvard
  • he ran against Seward for the Presidential nomination in 1860 on a platform of moderation
  • avoided public speaking as much as possible between April 1860 and February 1861 in order to improve his Presidential chances
  • he hated providing information for the Presidential nominee biographies and would often troll reporters
  • he was inaugurated on March 4, 1861
  • his first vice president was Hannibal Hamlin, his second was Andrew Johnson
  • he was the first republican President
  • was once smuggled by the first female Pinkerton Agent (Kate Warne) into Washington DC disguised as an ailing old man to avoid an assassination plot
  • Confederate leaders decided to secede because he was elected President – it was the final straw for them
  • he firmly believed Confederate leaders had persuaded Southerners to rebel with false propaganda
  • he knew better than to engage in inspirational rhetoric b/c of the nature of the Civil War until the Battle of Gettysburg
  • declared the first National Day of Prayer and Humiliation in March 1863, hoping to encourage the Union (it was set out as a day for chastising national pride and materialism)
  • met with a panel of African Americans in 1862 to ask for their help integrating free blacks into society – he asked them to help him set an example
  • was reluctant to officially emancipate the slaves before the Civil War ended, believing the Confederate states where slavery was predominant wouldn’t recognize his authority
  • presented the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet on September 22, 1862 to go into effect on January 1, 1863 in the rebelling states
  • he supported emancipating blacks but did not care to address Native American rights at all during his term
  • he had constant nightmares about the Civil War and thoughts of those being killed in it
  • began his second term on March 4, 1865, after running under the New Union Party
  • made plans for reconstruction while the war was still going
  • signed the Amnesty Proclamation, pardoning Southerners who met certain terms (hadn’t held office, hadn’t mistreated Union soldiers, would swear allegiance to the USA)
  • he also signed the Homestead Act of 1862, opening the west for expansion
  • pardoned 265 Native Americans after the Sioux uprising in 1862
  • his son Willie, died of a fever in 1862
  • established the Department of Agriculture
  • established the official date for the Thanksgiving holiday
  • suffered from clinical depression most of his life
  • was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865 while attending the theater.  Booth was carrying out an old Confederate plan which originally instructed him to kidnap Lincoln.  But after hearing an anti-confederacy speech by Lincoln, Booth was so angry he decided to kill Lincoln instead of kidnap him
  • Lincoln died on April 15, 1865 after being in a coma for nearly 9 hours after an almost point blank shot to the head
  • his youngest son, Tad, died from heart failure at age 18 in 1871

                                            Andrew Johnson —>

*post title taken from Jonathan Coulton’s “The Presidents”

A Recap of the Library

I, like The Bloggess, have an aversion to the number 13.  So when she came up with the brilliant idea of calling 2013 “the library” to avoid unpleasantness, I jumped on board.  I’m pretty thrilled that it’s over.  It wasn’t such a bad year, but let’s just say I’m happier to be writing 2014 on my dates instead of the other number. 


Kristen Howerton of Rage Against the Minivan posted this and she took it from All & Sundry…and I’m taking it and running with it.  Here’s my recap of the library.


1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

I became an Independent consultant for Thirty-One gifts.  I’d considered becoming a consultant for a few other direct sales companies before, but something about Thirty-One just resonated with me.  I became an aunt for the first time (and the second) this year.  I joined the MOPS steering team and participated in ministry leadership for the first time in almost ten years.  There were of course things like being mom of a 2 year old and cooking with cabbage, but they aren’t as exciting. 

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I actually didn’t make resolutions for the library, but instead decided to participate in One Word 365.  My word for the library was grace and although it didn’t impact me as much as I would’ve liked (I’m not perfect yet) I’m still looking forward to integrating 2014’s word, which is “intentional”.  I’d like to make more moments count with my family.  I’d like to make better decisions on running my business instead of what just feels right at the time.  And I’d like to eat healthier, read my Bible more, and basically make better use of my life – which means being intentional about the use of my time, energy, and money.  And it’s not really a resolution, but we’re going to try going gluten-free.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes!  My brother-in-law and his wife gave birth to my nephew, Jude.  My other brother-in-law and his wife gave birth to my other nephew, Eli.  And my friend Elle had a baby boy, Logan.  Lots of boys!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes, my paternal grandmother passed away this autumn.  I miss her.

5. What countries did you visit?

Um, the U.S.  Which is where I live, so super exciting.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

Peace, confidence, and rest.  And a potty trained kid.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Not specific dates, but some of the moments of my panic attacks will probably stick with me because they were so intense.  The sight of my daughter as she fell onto an escalator in Macy’s and had her fingers ripped open. 

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Probably not dying.  That feels like an achievement every year.  Getting the flooring replaced in our living room/dining room/kitchen, but that was more my brother than me.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Managing stress.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Yes.  I was diagnosed with depression at the end of 2012, and an anxiety disorder early in the library.  We’re still trying to get my meds sorted as well as trying to get my platelet function where it needs to be after my 2012 stroke.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

My starter kit for Thirty-One gifts.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Probably food and our daughter.  Kids are expensive. 

13. What did you get really excited about?

Our new flooring.  Fourth of July.  My daughter’s birthday and her Christmas.  Winning an Xbox One (shallow, I know).  My nephew being born.

14. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Bahaha – What Does the Fox Say?  My daughter loves that song.


…Buchanan saw the Civil War’s beginning…

James Buchanan was the 15th President of the United States of America.  He served one term from 1857-1861.

I read “James Buchanan” by Jean H. Baker

Political Nicknames: Ten Cent Jimmy, Old Buck

Quote: “There are portions of the Union in which if you emancipate your slaves they will become your masters.  Is there any man who would for a moment indulge the horrible idea of abolishing slavery by the massacre of the chivalrous race of men in the South?”

Some facts on President James Buchanan:

  • born on April 23, 1791 in Pennsylvania
  • was the second child of eleven
  • was a part of the richest family in town growing up
  • attended Dickinson College, expelled for bad behavior and then re-instated when his father pulled some strings
  • never had a nickname
  • graduated with honors and became a lawyer’s apprentice
  • was under severe pressure from his father to be a success
  • became a well-respected lawyer in Lancaster, PA
  • was chief master of his Masonic Lodge
  • elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly as a Federalist in 1814, was the youngest member
  • had wandering eyes (literally – the medical condition)
  • was briefly engaged to Ann Coleman, she broke it off and died soon after
  • never had to shave
  • has long been suspected as being a homosexual
  • the only bachelor President
  • wrote about himself in the third person
  • his father died suddenly in 1821
  • strongly supported states’ rights (a Democrat in those days)
  • his best friend and suspected sexual partner was Alabama Senator William King; their enemies called them “Miss Nancy and Aunt “Fancy” – they lived together for 15 years
  • became Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee
  • was assigned to be Ambassador to Russia by President Jackson in 1831 for 18 months, during which his mother died
  • elected as the US Senator for Pennsylvania in 1834
  • was a staunch supporter not only of states rights but Manifest Destiny
  • wanted to annex Texas and divide it into five states
  • fought for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1844
  • served as President Polk’s Secretary of State but wanted to be a Supreme Court Judge
  • campaigned for a Presidential nomination by holding lavish dinners every 10 days for the social season, inviting only influential people
  • wanted to annex Cuba and make it a state
  • was known for his old-fashioned taste in clothing
  • bought an estate named Wheatland near Lancaster
  • was primary breadwinner and guardian for 22 nieces and nephews, 13 grandnieces and grandnephews by 1852; running a family employment agency to help defer costs
  • his niece, Harriet Lane, was his favorite niece and served as his First Lady (and was the first woman to be called the “First Lady” because she wasn’t his wife)
  • loved cigars and rye whiskey
  • was known as a doughface because of his support of the South despite being a northerner
  • declined the office of Vice President offered to him by President Pierce
  • served as minister to Great Britain for three years under President Pierce, accepting and withdrawing twice before finally committing
  • was lonely in Britain and often called meetings with officials just to have someone to talk to
  • got in social disagreement over proper court dress when dining with royalty and was thought to be “twisting the lion’s tail” – mocking ridiculous British fashions
  • wrote the “Ostend Manifesto”, justifying the US purchasing Cuba from the Spanish for $100 million
  • ran against the first Republican candidate for President in history, John C. Frémont
  • did no campaigning, believing that being elected President was a gift of the people.  instead he wrote letters to influential people stating his views
  • supported building a railroad to the Pacific, which generally the Democrats did not support
  • 79% of the voting electorate went to the polls for that election – the fourth highest turnout at the writing of the book
  • barely won his home state
  • encouraged the American public to view the Republican party as a threat to the South
  • had made some contact with 10 former presidents when he took office
  • would invite his Cabinet members to stay at the White House when their wives were out of town so they could have late night discussions on policy
  • contracted dysentery during a hotel stay en route to Washington DC and was sick for months; his nephew died of it
  • filled his Cabinet with wealthy Southerners, insulting the North
  • pushed for a decision in the Dred Scott case, which essentially nullfied the Missouri Compromise
  • lost a lot of respect, many believing he had influenced the judges’ decision in the Dred Scott case
  • favorite foods included beef, mutton, venison, ham, terrapin, calf’s head dressed as terrapin, Pennsylvania Dutch specialties such as scrapple and succotash, moss rose cake, peach charlotte, Confederate pudding and Jeff Davis pie, grape pie, and ice cream
  • was vastly over-involved in his Cabinet’s decision making, often overrident cabinet members on the choices they made concerning their own departments
  • his Vice President was John Breckenridge, and was very poorly treated by Buchanan
  • met with his cabinet every afternoon except on Sundays
  • the White House’s social calendar was managed by Harriet Lane and Buchanan’s nephew, James Henry – both terribly lacking in experience
  • during his term, 1400 state banks, 5,000 business (including railroads and factories) went bankrupt after a NY branch of an Ohio corporation suspended payment – named the Panic of 1857
  • Buchanan did nothing to help the economy, blaming it on the North’s greed
  • also during his term, Brigham Young, governor of Utah and leader of the Mormon church, facilitated and covered up the murder of 125 Arkansas immigrants who “trespassed” on their land and blamed the deaths on the Paiute Indians
  • sent 2500 troops to discipline the Mormons, but the conflict was peacefully resolved by Thomas Kane
  • believed slavery existed wherever slaveholders wished to take their “property” – so he did nothing to alleviate growing violence over proslavery terrorism acts in Kansas
  • used ridiculous lobbying tactics to try and force a slave state Kansas Constitution through the House of Representatives, but he failed
  • in 1859, asked Congress to raise a military force to invade Mexico
  • sent 2500 sailors and marines on 19 warships to Paraguay to punish them for firing on an American vessel – the inability of these warships to reinforce coastal forts against attack was part of what convinced some Southern states to secede
  • he hated New England, believing it to be populated only by religious fanatics and preachers
  • the Republican controlled House of Representatives initiated a committee to investigate corruption in his administration in 1858
  • the committee proved that Buchanan’s cabinet was one of the most corrupt in American history, even by today’s standards
  • because of his corruption and unwillingness to support anyone but the South, Buchanan was the last Democratic President elected for 24 years
  • he managed to split the Democratic party
  • was advised by Winfield Scott, General in Chief of the Army, to garrison federal forts in the South in case there were attacks made by seceding states’ troops if Lincoln was elected President – Buchanan disliked Scott and therefore ignored his advice
  • South Carolina seceded on December 20, 1860
  • Buchanan denied the constitutional right to secession, but also denied Congress or the Presidential right to declare on states who were seceding
  • he did nothing to stop Southern forces from seizing federal buildings in Texas and other southern states
  • settled a truce with South Carolina, agreeing not to reinforce forts in exchange for not being attacked, thereby giving South Carolina time to train, arm and ready its militia and to overtake several gov’t buildings full of ammunition and arms
  • gave signs of suffering extreme mental and emotional duress – twitching in his cheek and jaw, unkempt hygiene, trembling in his limbs, depression so great he could not leave his bed
  • his Secretary of War, Floyd, had long been involved in embezzlement of government funds but was never fired but instead asked for a resignation, which he did not give until three months before Buchanan left office
  • Floyd also sent arms to the militias of southern states upon hearing of their intent to secede.  he later became a Confederate general.
  • Buchanan continued to surround himself with Southern supporting politicians, who managed to leak administrative plans, money to buy from arms dealers, and insider trading information
  • he wrote and published his memoir, entitled “Mr. Buchanan’s Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion” defending his actions as President
  • died at age 77 on June 1, 1868 of pneumonia at Wheatland


<– Franklin Pierce                                     Abraham Lincoln –>


Post title taken from Jonathan Coulton’s song “The Presidents”

…Pierce repealed the Missouri Compromise…

Franklin Pierce was the 14th President of the United States of America.  He served one term, from 1853-1857.

Nickname: Handsome Frank

Quote: “I believe that involuntary servitude, as it exists in different States of this Confederacy, is recognized by the Constitution.  I believe that it stands like any other admitted right, and that the States where it exists are entitled to efficient remedies to enforce the constitutional provisions.”

I read the biography “Franklin Pierce” by Michael F Holt.

  • born on November 23rd, 1804 in Hillsborough, New Hampshire
  • sixth child of General Benjamin Pierce and Anna Kendrick Pierce
  • his father served as NH Governor for 2 terms
  • was said to be charming, suave, a people pleaser and incredibly handsome
  • attended Bowdoin college where he met one of his best friends, Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • he loved wrestling and being outdoors
  • his favorite “pastime” was drinking, he was a lightweight when it came to alcohol and in all likelihood an alcoholic
  • his favorite foods were Fried clams, Daniel Webster’s chowder, apple pan dowdy, New Hampshire seed cookies, and New Hampshire fried pies.
  • was admitted to the bar (a lawyer) in 1827
  • possessed a deep, pleasing, rich voice
  • married Jane Means Appleton from Amherst, MA on November 19th, 1834 – they were said to be complete opposites
  • was elected to 4 consecutive years in the New Hampshire State House of Representatives
  • the last 2 years, he was Speaker of the House
  • was an anti-abolitionist because he believed they were “holier-than-thou” and threatened the Union
  • his first son died 3 days after being born in February 1836
  • was publicly humiliated and called a doughface in front of the Senate by John C. Calhoun (someone who could not form their own opinions and whose mind changed easily)
  • his room mate from college, Jonathan Cilley, was killed in a duel
  • his second son, Frank Robert, was born in September 1839 and died at age 4
  • was good friends with President Polk, after befriending him when he served as Speaker of the House
  • was offered the position of U.S. Attorney General in 1846, but declined citing family responsibilities
  • was appointed a colonel in the army by President Polk in 1847 for the Mexican-American War
  • was promoted to Brigadier General and tasked with re-supplying General Scott’s troops
  • was thrown from his horse and received an injury to his groin and knee causing him to pass out during his first serious battle, causing his troops to believe he fainted from fear
  • his wife hated Washington DC, so when his name was put forward for the Presidential nomination, he violently declined
  • he agreed to be a candidate later, only if the three other party frontrunners torpedoed each others’ chances
  • when he was told he had been nominated, he was speechless and his wife fainted
  • Southerners liked him because he supported upholding the Missouri Compromise, northerners liked him because he was young and from New Hampshire
  • that election (1836) had the lowest voter turnout rate until the 1920’s
  • went into the Presidency with the goal of preserving the unity of the Democratic Party as his highest goal
  • Jane Pierce’s uncle died  before the inauguration in 1852, and as they were returning by train from the funeral, the passenger car derailed and crashed; Pierce and Jane were merely bruised, but their only living son’s head was cut in half right in front of them, killing him instantly
  • Jane was so grief-stricken, she did not attend the funeral, head to Washington for Pierce’s inauguration, and could not function as the White House hostess until 1854
  • Pierce put together a cabinet of polar opposites, but which was highly effective and the only Presidential cabinet in the 19th century to remain completely intact throughout an entire four year Presidential term
  • his first veto was a bill that would have provided federal funds to build and operate asylums for the financially poor insane, stating he did not belive the government could be responsible for public charity
  • his Vice President, William R. King, died in April 1853 and was replaced by Missouri Democrat David R Atchison
  • sent James Gadsden to negotiate with Mexico for land that would allow  a transcontinental railroad southern route; Gadsden got much less land than they wanted, but ultimately bought enough for the railroad for $15 million
  • then turned around and said the government should not be the source of funding for a trans-continental railroad
  • repealed the Missouri Compromise, claiming the Compromise of 1850 made it unconstitutional
  • passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which opened up the west for slavery – Kansas was made a slave state and Nebraska a free state
  • the night the Kansas-Nebraska bill was passed, a fugitive slave was caught and imprisoned in Boston.  Anti-slavery supporters formed a mob and Pierce was forced to send federal troops to help escort the slave to a ship bound back to Virginia
  • because of the K-A act, Democrats lost 66 of their 91 held congressional seats in the elections of 1854
  • most northern Whigs, anti-Nebraska Democrats,  and Free Soiler party members joined together to form a new party in 1854 – the Republican Party
  • the Republican Party’s highest mission was to oppose southern slaveholders
  • when the government of Kansas was formed, there were hundreds of slavery supporting Missourians who cast hundreds of false votes for proslavery candidates and the governor allowed the results to stand
  • a rival government was set up in Topeka and they fought each other in battles so violent that Kansas was known as “Bleeding Kansas”
  • when he left office, he was worth $78,000 because of his investments (1.5 million in today’s dollars)
  • his wife was suffering from tuberculosis and all Pierce wanted to do after retiring was take care of her
  • one of his favorite past times was having drinking contests with one of his best friends, Clarence March – they drank brandy and champagne
  • the Pierces traveled to Madeira in December 1857 on a US Navy Vessel for Jane’s health
  • they traveled Europe, ending up in Rome in 1858 to visit Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • they returned to the US in September 1859
  • another trip to Nassau was taken in the winter of 1860
  • Jane died from tuberculosis on December 2nd, 1863 – their last vacation together had been in the summer at the beach
  • was asked to take care of Nathaniel Hawthorne as he was ailing – he was the one who discovered Hawthorne’s corpse
  • he paid full college tuition Hawthorne’s son, Julian, as well as his two nephews
  • he loved swimming naked in the ocean off of the coast of New Hampshire, even at the age of 60
  • tried to act as legal representation for Jefferson Davis after the end of the Civil War, but Davis refused him
  • he died from complications of alcoholism on October 8, 1869

title taken from Jonathan Coulton’s “The Presidents”

<— Millard Fillmore                   James Buchanan –>

Fillmore gave a boat to Commodore Perry

Millard Fillmore was the 13th President of the United States of America.  He served part of one term (1850-1853)  after President Zachary Taylor died while in office.

Nickname: The American Louis Philippe

Quote: “God knows that I detest slavery, but it is an existing evil, for which we are not responsible, and we must endure it.”   “Where is the true-hearted American whose cheek does not tingle with shame to see our highest and most courted foreign missions filled by  men of foreign birth to the exclusion of the native-born?”

I read “Millard Fillmore” by Paul Finkelman.

  • was born on January 7th, 1800 to Nathaniel and Phoebe Fillmore in New York
  • Millard was his mother’s maiden name
  • grew up in relative poverty
  • was apprenticed for four years as a wool carder and cloth dresser
  • met his wife, Abigail, at school in 1819 – she was a teacher
  • was apprenticed to a county judge, Walter Wood for two years, before Fillmore took a freelance job representing someone and was let go
  • announced his engagement at age 18 to Abigail, who was 20
  • was admitted to the bar (to practice law) at age 23
  • was very focused on outward appearances and wanted to to have a popular public image, he felt inferior b/c of his background
  • was open about being anti-mason, anti-Catholic, anti-abolitionist, and anti-immigrant
  • married Abigail in February 1826
  • Abigail Fillmore was the only First Lady before the twentieth century to work outside the home after her marriage
  • Fillmore was a great believer in conspiracy theories of all sorts
  • in 1828, he was elected to the New York state legislature and served three consecutive terms
  • was considered a protegé of Daniel Webster
  • was elected chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in 1840
  • ran for the Whig nomination for Vice President in 1844, but lost to Henry Clay
  • then ran for governor of New York and lost to Silas Wright
  • was nominated and elected as state comptroller of New York and closed his law office
  • pushed for a federal program to improve river and harbor development
  • was elected Chancellor of the University of Buffalo
  • for most of the time he was Vice President under Zachary Taylor, he lived alone at the Willard Hotel, his wife remaining in Buffalo
  • tended to have direct opposite views from President Taylor on the big issues such as statehood for California, the spread of slavery to the west, and the expansion of Texas
  • was snubbed when President Taylor took Fillmore’s hated political rival, William Henry Seward, to be his closest confidant and adviser
  • openly stated on one occasion that he would vote against the President’s wishes if there was a chance for him to be the tie-breaking vote on a bill
  • allied himself with Daniel Webster and Henry Clay
  • supported the Compromise of 1850, which allowed over 400,000 square miles of territory in the west to be declared as slavery-allowing territory
  • was sworn in as President on July 10, 1850, after the death of President Taylor
  • fired every single one of Taylor’s cabinet the day he took office, mainly out of spite – and was the only “accidental” President to do so
  • had trouble finding men to replace the ones he fired because of his party (Whigs) and because of his petulant attitude
  • gave Texas the right to define their own territorial boundaries and invade New Mexico, even if Congress said otherwise and he himself declared otherwise
  • firmly supported the Fugitive Slave Act, which allowed southern slave owners to travel up North to re-claim their runaway slaves (and sometimes free African Americans as well)
  • established a mint in San Francisco to stimulate the economy and aid those who found gold in getting it circulating in the economy
  • was the first President to propose a trans-continental railroad
  • he and his wife started the White House library
  • sent Commodore Matthew C. Perry on a mission to Japan to begin foreign relations with them – previously, all westerners were considered criminals when they landed in Japan
  • protected Hawaii from being annexed by Napoleon
  • favorite foods (via The Awl) – Beef stew, mock turtle soup, fish, ham with macaroni, duck, chicken, pigeon, and larded sweet breads.
  • failed to stop a man named Lopez from recruiting an army and trying to invade and conquer Cuba; Lopez was killed by the Spanish in Cuba, most of his expedition’s party members were executed or captured and sent to Spain, he then ransomed them and brought them home
  • amended the Fugitive Slave – barring African Americans from defending themselves at their own hearing/trial
  • became infuriated with Chicago and Boston when their city councils nullified the Fugitive Slave Act
  • authorized the use of Federal troops to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act (the Marines)
  • blamed the disharmony that came from the FSA on other politicians and the public in the North who refused to enforce it
  • was more concerned about his home state’s local politicians undermining him than he was about his own stand alienating him from the entire country
  • was only the fourth “Northern” President elected (Adams, Adams, and Van Buren) all the rest were from the South
  • was the first solidly middle-class President
  • instructed for the formation of the Washington Territory (it was part of the Oregon Territory previously)
  • after an African American man escaped while being tried under the FSA, the next trial of a black man under the Act was tried in a courthouse surrounded by nearly 500 special deputies and and ringed with anchor chain so that no one could mob it
  • personally demanded prosecution of four white people and 36 African Americans who participated in a riot that resulted in the escape of a fugitive slave, they were all charged with treason, by his request,  in the largest treason trial in the history of the US
  • despite the fact that he and Daniel Webster were cronies, they blocked each other from receiving the Whig nomination for the Presidency in 1852 just by running against each other and refusing to back down or communicate; this was especially ridiculous considering Webster was part of Fillmore’s cabinet and it was frowned upon for a current cabinet member to challenge a current President with their own campaign
  • his wife, Abigail, died on March 30, 1853 – less than a month after Fillmore left office – supposedly from a cold she caught attending Franklin Pierce’s inauguration
  • in 1854, Fillmore’s daughter, Mary Abigail, died
  • when he visited Queen Victoria of England, she reportedly thought him “the handsomest man she had ever met”
  • despite his deep dislike for Catholics, he agreed to meet the Pope in 1855 (as long as he didn’t have to kneel or kiss the Pope’s ring)
  • after the downfall of the Whig party, Fillmore joined the American Party (or Know-Nothing Party) which was strongly anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant; he ran as their Presidential nominee in 1856
  • when he lost the election, he returned to Buffalo and married Caroline Carmichael, a wealthy widow
  • organized a home guard of elderly men in Buffalo during the Civil War and raised $25,000 to aid wounded soldiers
  • after giving a speech denouncing the War and President Lincoln, he was regarded by his neighbors as a “Copperhead”, someone who lived in the North but sympathized with the Confederacy
  • founded the Buffalo Historical Society
  • died on March 8, 1874 of a stroke, and was buried in Buffalo

<— Zachary Taylor                                           Franklin Pierce —>

Post title taken from Jonathan Coulton’s song “The Presidents”

Taylor was a Mexican War hero

Zachary Taylor:

He was the 12th President of the United States of America and served part of one term – from 1849 until his death in 1850.

Nickname:  Old Rough and Ready

Quote: “The idea that I should become President seems to me too visionary to require a serious answer.  It has never entered my head, nor is it likely to enter the head of any sane person.”

I read the book “Zachary Taylor: Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old West” by K. Jack Bauer.  Yes, Jack Bauer.

  • born on November 24, 1784 on his father’s cousin’s plantation in Virginia – the plantation was named Montebello
  • grew up on a 400 acre farm outside Louisville, KY
  • did terrible in his first school years
  • was commissioned into the army on May 3, 1808
  • his older brother was killed fighting Native Americans
  • he married Margaret Mackall Smith on June 21, 1810; she was from Maryland
  • he worked as a part-time land surveyor
  • served in the military under W.H. Harrison, but he missed the battle of Tippecanoe
  • successfully led 40 men, only 16 of them healthy, to repel 450 Native American warriors from attacking Fort Harrison; the only building lost was their blockhouse
  • refused a military position in New York and returned to Louisville to farm
  • then rejoined the military in 1816
  • was head of a regiment who built a road from Tennessee to Louisiana
  • his 2 youngest daughters died in 1820 from a fever
  • he owned several Louisiana plantations
  • in 1828, his family moved to Fort Snelling, Minnesota
  • his daughter, Sarah Knox, married Jefferson Davis without her father’s consent.  She died three months later.
  • when he was the commanding officer, any man needing punishment would receive a “wooling” – grabbed by both ears and being shaken
  • was given the responsibility of driving the Seminoles out of Florida, where he was given the nickname “Old Rough and Ready” because of his willingness to stay alongside his troops in the same conditions
  • he came up with the “squares” program – a fighting tactic used in the Mexican War, in the Philippines and Vietnam
  • was a semi-successful real estate investor
  • was a big supporter of soil conservation and crop rotation
  • put in command of the army asked to hold the line against a Mexican invasion across the Rio Grande
  • he offered Mexican separatist forces aid in making an independent North Mexican Republic  (obviously, that didn’t work out)
  • gained control of the northern bank of the Rio Grande river for the United States as the national boundary
  • while in a standoff with Mexican forces, the Mexican troops would send their women to bathe naked in the river and then use sharpshooters to try and take out any American forces who tried to join the women
  • the leader of the Mexican forces offered sanctuary, and a homestead of 320 acres of land to any American troops who would desert
  • after taking the Mexican town of Matamoros, Taylor made a point to treat the enemy wounded and spent several hundred dollars from his own pocket to provide supplies for that purpose
  • was promoted to Major General by President Polk on May 30, 1846
  • left Mexico in October 1847
  • when approached by the Whig party for candidacy for their Presidential nomination, he had never voted
  • was staunchly supported by Abraham Lincoln
  • began suffering from rheumatism in 1848
  • was reluctant to take the Whig nomination because he wanted to be a President “independent of party”
  • didn’t do any campaign canvassing because he didn’t care if he won or not, he was also still on active military duty
  • his youngest daughter married William Bliss in 1848 – he was called “Perfect Bliss” by the Taylor family
  • the 1848 election was the first election in which the entire nation went to the polls on the same day – November 7
  • a cholera outbreak in New York and New Orleans began in December of 1848 and lasted through the next August; over 5,000 people died in New York
  • one of the first days of national Thanksgiving and prayer was declared by Taylor for August 3, 1849
  • favorite foods (via The Awl) – Deviled crabmeat, hominy, and Cajun food
  • Taylor was struck with dysentery during a tour of the country, he nearly collapsed from exhaustion
  • he attended the laying the cornerstone of the Washington monument in 1850
  • threatened any states who seceded from the Union with a trade embargo, and blockaded harbors
  • had the editor of a major newspaper fired when he refused to print an article attacking Taylor’s nemesis, Henry Clay
  • contracted some digestive infection on July 5, 1850 – some think it was b/c he ate a large meal of iced milk and cherries on a hot day
  • predicted his own death by saying on July 7th “in two days I shall be a dead man.”
  • died soon after 10:30 pm on July 9th, 1850
  • Fillmore declared six months of official mourning in government offices in response to the President’s death
  • Taylor was not buried until November 1st, since his wife requested his body be buried in the family cemetery outside Louisville
  • one of the few early presidents to die a rich man (over $3 million when adjusted to 1980’s inflation – the time this book was written)
  • his papers and personal items of value were stored at one of his plantations until it was sacked during the Civil War in 1863.  Very little has been recovered.

<— James Polk                                           Millard Fillmore –>

Post title taken from Jonathan Coulton’s Song “The Presidents”.