Margaret Taylor was the wife of Zachary Taylor, the 12th President of the United States. She served as First Lady from March 4, 1849 to July 9, 1850.
Margaret (“Peggy”) Mackall Smith was born on September 21, 1788, in Calvert County, Maryland. Her parents, Ann Mackall and Walter Smith, were wealthy plantation owners, and Margaret had a privileged upbringing.
Marriage to Zachary Taylor
Margaret met Zachary Taylor while visiting her sister in Kentucky. They were married on June 21, 1810. They would go on to have six children, although only four would survive infancy. A dedicated military wife, Margaret followed her husband from garrison to garrison across the frontier.
General Zachary Taylor became a hero during the Mexican War. Meanwhile, Margaret Taylor reportedly took a vow, promising that if her husband returned safely from war, she would never go into society again.
First Lady of the United States
Over his wife’s objections, Zachary Taylor, known by then as “Old Rough and Ready,” was nominated by Whig Party to run for President in 1848. When he became President, Margaret reluctantly moved with him to the White House.
While she invited guests to her upstairs sitting room, Margaret avoided most public appearances, citing her poor health. Her daughter, Betty Bliss, assumed the majority of the White House hostess duties. She performed them well, with manner described as blending “the artlessness of a rustic belle and the grace of a duchess.”
Margaret Taylor died on August 14, 1852, in East Pascagoula, Mississippi. She was buried next to her husband at which is now the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky.