Zachary Taylor Home

Historical Marker #1849 in Louisville notes the location of the boyhood home of general and president Zachary Taylor.

U.S. President Zachary Taylor was born in Orange County, Virginia, in 1784 to Richard and Sarah Dabney Taylor. The Taylor family ultimately moved west and settled in a log cabin in what would become Jefferson County, Kentucky. Soon, however, Richard Taylor had a brick home - called Springfield - built for his family on a large estate. Constructed about 1794, Zachary Taylor lived at Springfield longer than any other location. According to the site’s Historic American Building Survey, it was built from materials on the Taylor lands.

Zachary received a rudimentary education in his youth, which was common at that time. He enlisted in the U.S. Amy in 1808, and was first posted to Louisiana. His military duties were initially limited, which allowed him to return to Louisville and attend to personal business. He purchased land and slaves, and, in 1810, he married Margaret Mackall Smith. The couple eventually had six children. One daughter, Sarah, married future Confederate President Jefferson Davis. One of his sons, Richard, became a Confederate general during the Civil War.

The War of 1812 proved to be Taylor’s first combat experience. He had been transferred to Indiana Territory in 1811, and was promoted to major for defending Fort Harrison against the British and their Native American allies. After the War of 1812, Taylor was posted to several different assignments in the Northwest Territories and Louisiana. In the mid-1820s, Taylor moved his family to Louisiana, where he purchased a plantation near Baton Rouge.

In the 1830s, Taylor participated in the Black Hawk War in Illinois and the Second Seminole War in Florida. During this period he became known for his gruff appearance and military preparedness and earned the nickname "Old Rough and Ready."

Taylor eventually earned vast acclaim for his Mexican-American War exploits, which, in turn, helped him secure the Whig Party’s nomination for president in 1848. He won the election over Democratic candidate Lewis Cass, but died in office in 1850. He was buried at his boyhood home, Springfield, in Jefferson County, which eventually became the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.

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