Margaret Mackall Taylor (Smith) (1788 - 1852) MP

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Nicknames: "Peggy"
Birthplace: Calvert, Maryland, United States
Death: Died in Pascagoula, Jackson, Mississippi, United States
Occupation: First Lady of the United States
Managed by: Noel Bush
Last Updated:

About Margaret Mackall Taylor (Smith)

Margaret "Peggy" Mackall Smith Taylor (September 21, 1788 – August 14, 1852), wife of Zachary Taylor, was First Lady of the United States from 1849 to 1850.

From Wikipedia (accessed 20 November 2013)

Born in Calvert County, Maryland, on September 21, 1788, the daughter of Walter Smith, a prosperous Maryland planter and veteran officer of the American Revolution, and Ann Mackall-Smith, "Peggy" was raised amid refinement and wealth.

While visiting her sister in Kentucky in 1809, she was introduced to Lieutenant Zachary Taylor, then home on leave, by Dr. Alexander Duke.

Taylor, aged 25, married Peggy Smith, aged 21, on June 21, 1810, at the home of the bride's sister, Mrs. Mary Chew near Louisville, Kentucky. Their marriage appears to have been a happy one. A devout Episcopalian, Mrs. Taylor prayed regularly for her soldier husband. She became somewhat reclusive because, it is said, she had promised God to give up the pleasures of society if her husband returned safely from war.

Her surviving children were:

  1. Ann Mackall Taylor-Wood (1811-1875) - Born near Louisville, she married Dr. Robert C. Wood, an army surgeon, in 1829.
  2. Sarah Knox "Knoxie" Taylor (1814-1835)
  3. Mary Elizabeth "Betty" Taylor (1824-1909)
  4. Richard "Dick" Taylor (1826-1879) - planter, military leader.

With the rise in Taylor's political career, she literally prayed for his defeat, for she dreaded the personal consequences of his becoming president. By the time she became First Lady, the hardships of following her husband from fort to fort and the birth of several children had taken their toll. A semi-invalid, she remained in seclusion on the second floor of the White House, leaving the duties of official hostess to her daughter Mary Elizabeth "Betty" Taylor.

On the sudden death of the president, her health deteriorated rapidly. She died two years later, on August 14, 1852, at Pascagoula, Mississippi. She was buried next to her husband near Louisville, Kentucky.

notes

"Peggy" Smith was born in Calvert County, Maryland, daughter of Ann Mackall and Walter Smith, a major in the American Revolutionary War according to family tradition.

In 1809, visiting a sister in Kentucky, she met young Lieutenant Taylor. They were married the following June, and for a while the young wife stayed on the farm given them as a wedding present by Zachary's father. She bore her first baby there, but followed her husband from one remote garrison to another along the western frontier. An admiring civilian official cited her as one of the "delicate females...reared in tenderness" who had to educate "worthy and most interesting" children at a fort in Indian country.

Two small daughters died in 1820 of what Taylor called "a violent bilious fever," which left their mother's health impaired; three girls and a boy grew up. Knowing the hardships of a military wife, Taylor opposed his daughters' marrying career soldiers–but each eventually married into the Army.

The second daughter, Sarah Knox Taylor married Lt. Jefferson Davis in gentle defiance of her parents. In a loving letter home, she imagined her mother skimming milk in the cellar or going out to feed the chickens. Within three months of her wedding, Knox died of malaria. Taylor was not reconciled to Davis until they fought together in Mexico; in Washington the second Mrs. Davis, Varina Howell became a good friend of Mrs. Taylor's, often calling on her at the White House.

She died on August 14, 1852 and is interned in Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.

Though Peggy Taylor welcomed friends and kinfolk in her upstairs sitting room, presided at the family table, met special groups at her husband's side, and worshiped regularly at St. John's Episcopal Church, she took no part in formal social functions. She relegated all the duties of official hostess to her youngest daughter, Mary Elizabeth, then 25 and recent bride of Lt. Col. William W. S. Bliss, adjutant and secretary to the President.

Sources

  1. White House Biographies: Margaret Taylor
  2. Partial Genealogy of the Smiths of Maryland
view all 14

Margaret "Peggy" Mackall Smith Taylor's Timeline

1788
September 21, 1788
Calvert, Maryland, United States
1810
June 21, 1810
Age 21
Louisville, Kentucky
1811
April 9, 1811
Age 22
Louisville, Jefferson, KY
1814
March 6, 1814
Age 25
Vincennes, Indiana, United States
1816
August 16, 1816
Age 27
Jefferson Co., Kentucky
1819
July 17, 1819
Age 30
Jefferson, KY, USA
1824
April 20, 1824
Age 35
Jefferson Co., Kentucky
1826
January 27, 1826
Age 37
Louisville, Jefferson, Kentucky, United States
1835
1835
Age 46
Baton Rouge, LA, USA
1852
August 14, 1852
Age 63
Pascagoula, Jackson, Mississippi, United States