the president thought california should be independent of the u.s. -- 11/21/17

Today's selection -- from Zachary Taylor by John S. D. Eisenhower. In 1849, President Zachary Taylor felt that the newly acquired territories of California and Oregon were too distant and should have governments that were independent of the United States:

"Taylor's inaugural address was innocuous enough. Before a crowd of twenty thousand at the East Portico of the Capitol, he expressed humility at being chosen to be chief magistrate of the Republic. He paid compliments to his future associates in govern­ment, to the Congress, and to the judiciary. He rendered more than the usual obeisance to the memory of George Washington and em­phasized once again Washington's admonition against entangling alliances. In only one paragraph of a short address did he express concepts differing from [his predecessor President James] Polk's philosophy, that is, in his according precedence in domestic issues to the Congress.

'It shall be my duty to recommend such constitutional mea­sures to Congress as may be necessary and proper to secure encouragement and protection to the great interests of agri­culture, commerce, and manufacture, to improve the rivers and harbors, to provide for the speedy extinguishment of the public debt, to enforce strict accountability on the part of all officers of the Government and the utmost economy in all public expenditures; but it is for the wisdom of Congress it­self, in which all legislative powers are vested in the Consti­tution, to regulate these and other matters of domestic policy. I shall look with confidence to the enlightened patri­otism of that body .... '

"Such deference toward Congress was foreign to Polk's basic phi­losophy of government, but what really upset him was a casual remark that Taylor made regarding the newly conquered territory of California, the attainment of which had been a keystone of the Polk administration.

'Something was said which drew from General Taylor the ex­pression of views and opinions which greatly surprised me. They were to the effect that California and Oregon were too distant to become members of the Union, and that it would be better for them to be an independent government. He said that our people would inhabit them and repeated that it would be better for them to form an independent govern­ment for themselves. These are alarming opinions to be en­tertained by the President of the United States .... General Taylor's comments, I hope, have not been well considered.'"



John S.D. Eisenhower


Zachary Taylor: The American Presidents Series: The 12th President, 1849-1850


Times Books, Henry Holt and Company, LLC


Copyright 2018 by John S.D. Eisenhower


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