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Margaret (Smith) Taylor 1788 ~ 1852

 

Upon the ascension of General Zachary Taylor to the office of the Presidency, much solicitude was expressed as to Mrs. Taylor's ability to preside over the executive mansion. General Taylor, when notified of his election to the office, said "for more than a quarter of a century my house has been the tent and my home the battlefield" an expression which was literally true.

Notwithstanding this fact he had never lost his regard for the proprieties and refinements of life. Mrs. Taylor had been his constant companion in all of his campaigns on the frontier and during the Florida War. Her experience was really the most extensive in army life of that of any other army woman. She was known as a true American heroine. She had no fear and was never willing to be separated from her soldier husband. These experiences developed the true nobility of her character.

She spent much of her time at Baton Rouge and in addition to the responsibilities of her household she devoted herself to plans for the building of churches and establishing of schools, and exercised her influence to quiet the alarm of the people after the battle of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma. It was during the war with Mexico that Lieutenant Jefferson Davis was under the command of General Taylor. It was noticed that they were not on friendly terms, and it was afterwards discovered that it was on account of General Taylor's opposition to his attention to his daughter Sarah. The General violently opposed the attentions of army officers to his daughters, on account of the fact that he considered the life of an army officer at that time, fraught with too many hardships for a woman. Lieutenant Jefferson Davis, however, succeeded in winning the affections of General Taylor's daughter and being unable to overcome the father's opposition, the young people ran away and were married, which General Taylor considered a dishonorable thing on the part of Jefferson Davis.

Mrs. Davis died soon after her marriage, which sad event made a very deep impression upon the General's and Mrs. Taylor's lives.

General Taylor's brilliant triumphs in Mexico destined him to become the President of the United States, as much as Mrs. Taylor opposed his being a candidate for the Presidency. Upon receiving the news of his election, General Taylor resigned as an officer of the army and it was with much regret that he and his family severed their connection with the service, in which they had spent nearly their whole lives.

Betty (Taylor) Bliss 1824 ~ 1909

Mrs. Taylor had no taste for the gayeties of Washington and after the inauguration of President Taylor she withdrew from all participation in social functions and resigned the duties of the mistress of the White House to her youngest daughter, Elizabeth, the wife of Major Bliss, who had served as General Taylor's Adjutant General during the campaign. "Miss Betty" as she was called, was young, vivacious, accomplished and eminently fitted to discharge the duties of mistress of the White House.

Mrs. Taylor selected such rooms as suited her simple tastes, and as far as possible resumed the routine that characterized her simple life at Baton Rouge. General Taylor insisted that she should be indulged in exercising her own wishes in these matters, since Mrs. Bliss was thoroughly competent to relieve her mother of distasteful duties.

During President Taylor's residency in the White House there were many illustrious men in the Senate and holding other high positions. The rivalries and jealousies in politics reached an alarming height, and as General Taylor was the victim upon whom was visited many attacks and much vituperation, his brave spirit finally succumbed, and he died July 9, 1850, surrounded by his deeply afflicted family.

Accompanied by her daughter Mrs. Taylor obtained a home among her relations in Kentucky, but soon became very unhappy, because of the continued manifestations of sympathy. She removed to the residence of her son near Pascagoula, Louisiana. Major Bliss' death soon followed that of Mrs. Taylor which occurred in 1852, and Mrs. Bliss, childless and alone, sought the seclusion of private life among friends in Virginia.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.

 

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