Margaret Taylor Biography
Margaret Mackall Smith Taylor, often called “Peggy” served as the First Lady from 1849 to 1850, with her husband Zachary Taylor, the twelfth President of the United States. She was born in Maryland on September 21st, 1788, into a prosperous family that owned a tobacco plantation. Her mother passed away when she was just ten years old, and her father passed away when she was sixteen. Not much is known of her life before she met Zachary in 1809, except for the fact she moved to Kentucky with her sister following the death of her father. It was in Kentucky, where she first met her future husband.
Zachary and Peggy married on June 21st, 1810, at Peggy’s sister’s home in Kentucky. Zachary was a lieutenant at the time and was thus assigned to various states and territories across the United States. Peggy traveled with him, living in tents and cabins near the barracks for almost forty years. Peggy gave birth to four children over the course of her marriage to Zachary, but she sent them to stay with relatives in Louisville, Kentucky, where she thought life was more civilized. The Taylor children went on to obtain educations at academies and universities.
In 1838, Zachary was given leave from the army through a promotion. The Taylors traveled all around the country, from Florida to Washington D.C. After their return to Louisville, Zachary was called to the army during the Mexican-American War. He returned as a hero.
Although Peggy thoroughly opposed her husband running for President, she attended the inauguration ceremony in 1849. Her main duty as the First Lady was to take care of her husband, in particular, his diet, health, and wardrobe. Zachary had gained a reputation as a sloppy dresser, and it is thought that Peggy helped him dress more like a President. Peggy, however, refused to take on the social duties of a First Lady, and instead, assigned her popular and beautiful daughter, known as “Miss Betty,” in Washington circles, those functions.
In 1850, however, Zachary suffered a sudden stomach illness. Five days later, he died. Peggy, who thought her husband had survived far greater threats that a stomach illness, was so distraught that she was unable to attend her husband’s funeral. She died two years after him, in Pascagoula, Mississippi.