Zachary Taylor became the 12th President of the United States on 4th March 1849. He was a rather unlikely figure to have done so: a career soldier who had spent 40 years in the army, he had previously had so little interest in the political process that he had never so much as voted and was, by all accounts, borderline illiterate. Though touted as a Whig, he himself identified as an independent and rebelled against the congressional powers that tried to ensure he abided by the Whiggish platform. The main issue of his day was slavery. Taylor, who came from a plantation family and was to be the last slave-owning president, nonetheless opposed the expansion of that ‘peculiar institution,’ thereby alienating both its detractors and adherents. He died before any compromise could be reached, and is generally held to have been too inexperienced to make a significant contribution to American politics.
Read Taylor's inaugural address here.