“The Long Agony Is Over”

Michael F. Holt

in The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party

Published in print May 2003 | ISBN: 9780195161045
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849635 | DOI:
“The Long Agony Is Over”

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The diarrhea and painful indigestion that afflicted Zachary Taylor had been diagnosed by his doctors as “cholera morbus”. Taylor probably suffered instead from acute gastroenteritis, an infection of the stomach wall and intestines, and the primitive treatment he received did him more harm than good. The sixty-five-year-old president managed to conduct business for two days and then began to decline rapidly. By the afternoon of July 9, 1850, word spread around Washington that his end was near. That night the “Hero of Buena Vista” died. As soon as the doleful news spread, stunned Whigs began to speculate about “the effect of General Taylor's death upon the Country” and upon their party. Millard Fillmore's unanticipated ascension to power suddenly created the possibility of a change in men and measures. As a Northerner and an orthodox Whig party regular, Fillmore was no John Tyler, but ultimately his presidency had almost as deleterious consequences for the Whig party as did the proslavery Virginian's.

Keywords: Zachary Taylor; gastroenteritis; president; Hero of Buena Vista; Whig party; death; Millard Fillmore

Chapter.  18236 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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