The Theory About Zachary Taylor's Death That Changes Everything

Zachary Taylor was the 12th president of the United States. His success during his military career earned him the nickname "Old Rough and Ready," and his appeal to both sides of the political spectrum propelled him to the White House. Many were optimistic about the things that this respected war hero could accomplish while leading the country.

Unfortunately, Taylor did not have the chance to accomplish much, as he died 16 months into his presidency. His death has long been believed to have been due to natural causes — specifically, a gastrointestinal condition. However, the circumstances surrounding his untimely death have led to questions as to whether his death was truly natural or not.

In 1850, President Taylor was a healthy 65-year-old who was doing his best to manage the country. According to History, after attending Fourth of July festivities, the president fell ill, complaining of severe stomach pain. It is reported that during the celebrations, Taylor had been seen eating large amounts of cherries and iced milk, followed by many glasses of water. Four days later, on July 9, 1850, the president succumbed to his illness, which doctors believed to be cholera morbus, which is a bacterial infection of the intestines. They proposed that there was some bacteria present in the water or iced milk that Taylor consumed, as cholera was a fairly common occurrence during this time. Despite the doctors' diagnosis, some speculated that there were other possibilities — including murder.

Natural causes or foul play?

For many years, no one explored the president's death any further than the "official" diagnosis. According to Priceonomics, in the 1980s a retired university professor decided to research the possibility that President Taylor had been poisoned. Clara Rising looked closely at the symptoms that President Taylor exhibited in the days leading up to his death. Some of these included severe stomach pain, cramping, nausea, and diarrhea, and she noted that they are almost identical to symptoms of arsenic poisoning. She managed to get the deceased president's body exhumed for testing, which showed trace amounts of arsenic in his system, but apparently not enough to kill him.

While the possible poisoning of Zachary Taylor has largely been put to rest, there still is not exactly a fully definitive answer as to what caused his unexpected death. The Kentucky State Medical Examiner at the time agreed that the president died of a natural disease, but could not specify which one, because many diseases could have produced similar symptoms.