Tags: Presidential History | first lady | Zachary Taylor | Margaret

Margaret Taylor: The Causes That Defined President Zachary Taylor's First Lady

By    |   Wednesday, 24 Jun 2015 06:14 PM

Margaret Taylor served dutifully as the wife and first lady of President Zachary Taylor for 16 months until July 9, 1850, when her husband died in office.

Committed to the president's well-being, Taylor oversaw the White House operations, while leaving the hostess responsibilities of a first lady to her daughter.

Known informally as "Peggy," the Maryland-born Margaret Smith was the daughter of a successful tobacco planter, and received a good education. Orphaned by age 16, she went to live with her older sister in Louisville, Kentucky, where she would meet Lieutenant Zachary Taylor. The couple married within a year of their 1809 meeting.

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The National First Ladies' Library cites two anecdotes — allegedly told by Taylor himself — that tell of Peggy's hope that her husband wouldn't win the Whig Party's presidential nomination. Once the Taylors took office, Peggy was rarely seen in public, and bestowed the duties of the first lady to 24-year-old Mary Elizabeth "Betty" Taylor Bliss.

Betty attended all official social functions, starting with the multiple inaugural balls, which led the press to write about her youthful appearance and striking personality, according to The Miller Center.

Though seldom seen, Margaret Taylor still influenced her husband. She participated in political discussions and meetings, if she felt it might help. She entertained close friends and family in the Taylor's personal quarters and regularly attended church services near the White House.

Already well-versed on maintaining a homestead, Margaret's main focus remained her husband. She handled his diet, health and wardrobe choices, as Taylor had become known as a poor dresser, according to The National First Ladies' Library. She also oversaw the slaves and servants and supervised the gardens.

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Margaret Taylor served dutifully as the wife and first lady of President Zachary Taylor for 16 months until July 9, 1850, when her husband died in office.
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2015-14-24
Wednesday, 24 Jun 2015 06:14 PM
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