American History Moment
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On July 9, 1850, after only 16 days in office, President Zachary Taylor died following a brief illness. On July 4, President Taylor had attended Independence Day festivities in Washington, D.C., on the grounds on which the Washington Monument was to be erected. It was an extremely hot day, and upon returning to the White House the President consumed large quantities of uncooked vegetables, cherries, iced milk and water. Within the next day or so, he became ill with acute gastroenteritis. There was speculation President Taylor might have contracted cholera, a deadly disease that occurred frequently in the summer months in hot, humid Washington. Another theory suggested that the acidic cherries and cold milk had caused his illness. Others suspected food poisoning or typhoid fever. There were some who believed he might have been poisoned by people who were angered by his anti-slavery stance. Taylor, military hero of the Mexican War, opposed secession and had vowed to personally lead an attack against any state that threatened to secede from the union. Taylor died on the evening of July 9, after suffering from high fever and severe stomach pains for four days. His personal physicians concluded that he had succumbed to severe gastroenteritis. The vice president, Millard Fillmore, was sworn in as the new president the following day. President Taylor was buried on the State Capitol grounds in Nashville, Tennessee. More than one hundred carriages and a procession nearly two miles long accompanied the body, and thousands of mourners lined the route.
From Jauflione Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution