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Margaret Smith Taylor

U.S. First Lady

Born: 21 September 1788
Died: 18 August 1852
Birthplace: Calvert County, Maryland
Best known as:

President Zachary Taylor's wife

Name at birth: Margaret Mackall Smith

 

Margaret Smith Taylor was the wife of the 12th president of the United States, Zachary Taylor. She never really served as the First Lady, however, leaving the formal duties up to her daughter, Mary Elizabeth "Betty" Bliss. Margaret met Zachary while visiting her sister in Kentucky, and the they married about a year later, in 1810. Margaret -- "Peggy" -- spent her life as a military wife, moving around the western frontier as Taylor rose in the ranks of the U.S. Army. When he was elected in 1848 she was reluctant to go to Washington, and she had been unhealthy for years (she had been weakened in 1820 by a bout of malaria that caused the deaths of two of her children, Octavia and Margaret). Once in the White House she stayed out of sight except for trips to church and occasional meetings with friends, while Betty hosted parties and attended to official business. Taylor died after a little more than a year in office and Margaret went to live in Mississippi, where she died two years later.

Extra credit:

Margaret and Zachary's second daughter, Sarah Knox Taylor, was the first wife of Jefferson Davis, the future president of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.

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