Zachary Taylor was the twelfth President of the United States. He was a very interesting person. He was a crook, a gambler, a drunkard, and had a very short temper. One source claimed that seeing Zachary Taylor sober was something few people could claim to have done.
A short time after Taylor was born in 1784, he was given the peculiar nickname muskrat head . The exact story behind this nickname has since been lost. Taylor was very sensitive when it came to his nickname. The sighting of this repulsive animal, or the mentioning of the animal s name, could send Taylor into a fury. When Taylor was six years old, he was being taunted by two of his classmates about his nickname. He punished them by chaining them to a windmill and feeding them large bunches of grass. On another occasion, at the age of sixteen, Taylor showed everyone that no matter who you were, he would become violent at the mere mentioning of the animal. On a family trip to the zoo, Taylor was escorting a young lady. The girl unknowingly and innocently pointed at a family of muskrats, referring to them as queer-looking beasts . Zack was infuriated. He then turned monkeys, tropical birds, an alligator, and an antelope loose, and hurled a peanut vendor s stand into a mud hole.
Zachary Taylor was also known for his strange behavior. He liked to hide from no one in particular in a wagon of rotten vegetables and paint his beard blue. He once set a local paper mill on fire. He liked to lure unsuspecting girls into his secret clubhouse , located in the sub-basement of the Taylor home. On religious holidays, he enjoyed dressing like a giant purple butterfly.
When Taylor unexpectedly became President in 1849, his behavior did not improve. He was notorious for his laziness. After holding office for little over half a day, he feasted on fourteen pounds of French pastries and a jug of Indian corn whiskey. He then fell asleep in the White House Rose Garden for eighty-six hours, until a terrified servant armed with a thorny branch awakened him. Upon this dawning, he attempted his first Presidential act: the introduction of a bill requiring all visitors to the White House to do the Mexican Hat Dance with his 700 pound sister Rebecca while he munched on chocolate donuts and watched.
Since Taylor s Presidency was such a joke, the senators took it upon themselves to constantly play pranks on the poor President. One of the favorite pranks of many senators was to not show up for the President s addresses. Instead, they would place muskrats with powdered wigs in their seats. He was the first president to be ridiculed in the manner that he was. Because of this, he seemed to have very jealous feelings about the eleven previous presidents. He also seemed to have a special hatred for George Washington, whom he referred to as that bark-toothed Whig sissy . He once ordered all cherry trees east of the Mississippi to be burned to the ground. He also hurled all seventy place settings into the Potomac River, which were paid for with a large $56,000 sum of taxpayer money. When his father asked if was responsible for these acts, he answered, What do you care, f–khead? You ll be dead soon anyway.
Mr. Taylor was also famous for his horrible gambling habits. Within days of taking office, he had surrendered ten priceless paintings, a bedspread given to John Quincy Adams by the King of Spain, and most of the White House linen to pay for poker debts. Many of his gambler friends paid frequent visits to the White House, helping themselves to valuables that were absentmindedly left sitting around by the drunken president. It was often said that by the end of Taylor s four-year term, there would have been nothing left in the House but the toilet and a few scraps of the floral wallpaper.
Unfortunately, the president s term was not four years, but only one year, 4 months, and 4 days. At the groundbreaking of the Washington Monument on a hot July 4 in 1850, he fell ill. He had been eating cherries and iced milk. He died 5 days later, due to gastroenteritis–inflammation of the stomach and intestines. His wife, Margaret Mackall Smith Taylor, survived him. They also had three children alive at the time of his death. They were: Ann Mackall Taylor (1811-75); Mary Elizabeth Taylor (1824-1909); and Richard Taylor (1826-79). They had three other children that preceded him in death. They were: Sarah Knox Taylor (1814-35); Octavia P. Taylor (1816-20); Margaret Smith Taylor (1819-20);
The greatest indignity happened after his death. Due to a mix up at the cemetery, his grave was crowned with the wrong tombstone. The one over his grave belonged to a Belgian Merchant with the last name Mouskrat. This name was French for, you guessed it: muskrat.
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