1850 (MDCCCL) was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar, the 1850th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 850th year of the 2nd millennium, the 50th year of the 19th century, and the 1st year of the 1850s decade. As of the start of 1850, the Gregorian calendar was 12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.
|1850 in various calendars|
|Ab urbe condita||2603|
|Balinese saka calendar||1771–1772|
|British Regnal year||13 Vict. 1 – 14 Vict. 1|
|Chinese calendar||己酉年 (Earth Rooster)|
4546 or 4486
— to —
庚戌年 (Metal Dog)
4547 or 4487
|- Vikram Samvat||1906–1907|
|- Shaka Samvat||1771–1772|
|- Kali Yuga||4950–4951|
|Japanese calendar||Kaei 3|
|Julian calendar||Gregorian minus 12 days|
|Minguo calendar||62 before ROC|
|Thai solar calendar||2392–2393|
1976 or 1595 or 823
— to —
1977 or 1596 or 824
The United States Census of 1850 was the seventh census of the United States. Conducted by the Census Office on June 1, 1850, it determined the resident population of the United States to be 23,191,876—an increase of 35.9 percent over the 17,069,453 persons enumerated during the 1840 Census. The total population included 3,204,313 slaves.
This was the first census where there was an attempt to collect information about every member of every household; women and children were named. Slaves were included by gender and estimated age on Slave Schedules, listed by the name of the owner. Prior to 1850, census records had recorded only the name of the head of the household and broad statistical accounting of other household members (three children under age five, one woman between the age of 35 and 40, etc.). This was also the first census to ask about place of birth of free residents.
Hinton Rowan Helper made extensive use of the 1850 census results in his politically notorious book The Impending Crisis of the South (1857).1850 United States House of Representatives elections
Elections to the United States House of Representatives for the 32nd Congress were held at various dates in different states from August 1850 to November 1851. The Democrats gained 17 seats, increasing their majority relative to the rival Whigs, who lost 22 seats.
Whig President Millard Fillmore, who succeeded to the Presidency in July 1850 after the death of Zachary Taylor, lacked a strong political base. Sectionalism and slavery were increasingly prominent, but not yet politically critical, issues. The Compromise of 1850 was a short-term success in beginning the constructive disposal of the Mexican Cession, but the admission of California as the 31st state augured a future free-soil West. Lingering Southern unhappiness with the results of the Compromise and a sense of foreboding helped motivate later sectional and political conflict over Kansas.
The Unionist Party, formed in support of the Compromise of 1850, gained 10 seats in the South, as did the States' Rights Party. The abolitionist Free Soil Party lost five seats and was reduced to four Representatives, all in New England.1850 United States elections
The 1850 United States elections occurred part way through Whig President Millard Fillmore's term, during the Second Party System. Fillmore had become president on July 9, 1850 upon the death of his predecessor, Zachary Taylor. Members of the 32nd United States Congress were chosen in this election. Democrats kept control of both houses of Congress.
In the House, Democrats won several seats from the Whigs, building on their control of the chamber. Several supporters of the Georgia Platform also won election as Unionists.In the Senate, Whigs lost a small number of seats to Democrats and the Free Soil Party. Democrats retained a strong majority.1850 and 1851 United States Senate elections
The United States Senate elections of 1850 and 1851 were elections which had the Democratic Party lose seats, but retain a majority in the United States Senate.
As this election was prior to ratification of the seventeenth amendment, Senators were chosen by State legislatures.1850s
The 1850s was a decade that ran from January 1, 1850, to December 31, 1859. The 1850s was a very turbulent decade, as wars such as the Crimean War, shifted and shook European politics, as well as the expansion of colonization towards the Far East, which also sparked conflicts like the Second Opium War. At the mean time, The United States saw its peak on mass migration to the American West, that particularly made the nation experience an economic boom, as well as a rapidly increasing population.Atlantic hurricane season
The Atlantic hurricane season is the period in a year when hurricanes usually form in the Atlantic Ocean. Tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic are called hurricanes, tropical storms, or tropical depressions. In addition, there have been several storms over the years that have not been fully tropical and are categorized as subtropical depressions and subtropical storms. Even though subtropical storms and subtropical depressions are not technically as strong as tropical cyclones, the damages can still be devastating.
Worldwide, tropical cyclone activity peaks in late summer, when the difference between temperatures aloft and sea surface temperatures is the greatest. However, each particular basin has its own seasonal patterns. On a worldwide scale, May is the least active month, while September is the most active. In the Northern Atlantic Ocean, a distinct hurricane season occurs from June 1 to November 30, sharply peaking from late August through September; the season's climatological peak of activity occurs around September 10 each season. This is the norm, but in 1938, the Atlantic hurricane season started as early as January 3.
Tropical disturbances that reach tropical storm intensity are named from a pre-determined list. On average, 10.1 named storms occur each season, with an average of 5.9 becoming hurricanes and 2.5 becoming major hurricanes (Category 3 or greater). The most active season was 2005, during which 28 tropical cyclones formed, of which a record 15 became hurricanes. The least active season was 1914, with only one known tropical cyclone developing during that year.
The Atlantic hurricane season is a time when most tropical cyclones are expected to develop across the northern Atlantic Ocean. It is currently defined as the time frame from June 1 through November 30, though in the past the season was defined as a shorter time frame. During the season, regular tropical weather outlooks are issued by the National Hurricane Center, and coordination between the Weather Prediction Center and National Hurricane Center occurs for systems which have not formed yet, but could develop during the next three to seven days.California Gold Rush
The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. The news of gold brought approximately 300,000 people to California from the rest of the United States and abroad. The sudden influx of gold into the money supply reinvigorated the American economy, and the sudden population increase allowed California to go rapidly to statehood, in the Compromise of 1850. The Gold Rush had severe effects on Native Californians and resulted in a precipitous population decline from disease, genocide and starvation. By the time it ended, California had gone from a thinly populated ex-Mexican territory, to having one of its first two U.S. Senators, John C. Frémont, selected to be the first presidential nominee for the new Republican Party, in 1856.
The effects of the Gold Rush were substantial. Whole indigenous societies were attacked and pushed off their lands by the gold-seekers, called "forty-niners" (referring to 1849, the peak year for Gold Rush immigration). Outside of California, the first to arrive were from Oregon, the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), and Latin America in late 1848. Of the approximately 300,000 people who came to California during the Gold Rush, about half arrived by sea and half came overland on the California Trail and the Gila River trail; forty-niners often faced substantial hardships on the trip. While most of the newly arrived were Americans, the gold rush attracted thousands from Latin America, Europe, Australia, and China. Agriculture and ranching expanded throughout the state to meet the needs of the settlers. San Francisco grew from a small settlement of about 200 residents in 1846 to a boomtown of about 36,000 by 1852. Roads, churches, schools and other towns were built throughout California. In 1849 a state constitution was written. The new constitution was adopted by referendum vote, and the future state's interim first governor and legislature were chosen. In September 1850, California became a state.
At the beginning of the Gold Rush, there was no law regarding property rights in the goldfields and a system of "staking claims" was developed. Prospectors retrieved the gold from streams and riverbeds using simple techniques, such as panning. Although the mining caused environmental harm, more sophisticated methods of gold recovery were developed and later adopted around the world. New methods of transportation developed as steamships came into regular service. By 1869, railroads were built from California to the eastern United States. At its peak, technological advances reached a point where significant financing was required, increasing the proportion of gold companies to individual miners. Gold worth tens of billions of today's US dollars was recovered, which led to great wealth for a few, though many who participated in the California Gold Rush earned little more than they had started with.Compromise of 1850
The Compromise of 1850 was a package of five separate bills passed by the United States Congress in September 1850, which defused a four-year political confrontation between slave and free states on the status of territories acquired during the Mexican–American War (1846–1848). The compromise, drafted by Whig Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky and brokered by Clay and Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois, reduced sectional conflict, although controversy eventually arose over the Fugitive Slave provision. Although the compromise was greeted with relief, each side disapproved of some of its specific provisions:
Texas surrendered its claim to New Mexico as well as its claims north of 36°30'. It retained the Texas Panhandle, and the federal government took over the state's public debt.
California was admitted as a free state, with its current boundaries.
The South prevented the adoption of the Wilmot Proviso, which would have outlawed slavery in the new territories. The new Utah Territory and New Mexico Territory were allowed, under popular sovereignty, to decide whether to allow slavery within their borders. In practice, these lands were generally unsuited to plantation agriculture, and their settlers were uninterested in slavery.
The slave trade, but not the institution of slavery, was banned in the District of Columbia.
A more stringent Fugitive Slave Law was enacted, requiring law enforcement in free states to support the capture and return of fugitive slaves, and increasing penalties against people who tried to evade the law.The Compromise became possible after the sudden death of President Zachary Taylor. Although a slave owner, he had wanted to exclude slavery from the Southwest. Whig leader Henry Clay designed a compromise, which failed to pass in early 1850 because of opposition by both pro-slavery southern Democrats, led by John C. Calhoun, and anti-slavery northern Whigs. Upon Clay's instruction, Stephen Douglas divided Clay's bill into several smaller pieces and narrowly won their passage, over the opposition of radicals on both sides.Fugitive Slave Act of 1850
The Fugitive Slave Act or Fugitive Slave Law was passed by the United States Congress on September 18, 1850, as part of the Compromise of 1850 between Southern slave-holding interests and Northern Free-Soilers.
The Act was one of the most controversial elements of the 1850 compromise and heightened Northern fears of a "slave power conspiracy". It required that all escaped slaves, upon capture, be returned to their masters and that officials and citizens of free states had to cooperate. Abolitionists nicknamed it the "Bloodhound Law", for the dogs that were used to track down runaway slaves.Harper's Magazine
Harper's Magazine (also called Harper's) is a monthly magazine of literature, politics, culture, finance, and the arts. Launched in June 1850, it is the second-oldest continuously published monthly magazine in the U.S. (Scientific American is the oldest but did not become monthly until 1921). Harper's Magazine has won 22 National Magazine Awards.Lehman Brothers
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. () was a global financial services firm. Before filing for bankruptcy in 2008, Lehman was the fourth-largest investment bank in the United States (behind Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch), doing business in investment banking, equity and fixed-income sales and trading (especially U.S. Treasury securities), research, investment management, private equity, and private banking. Lehman was operational for 158 years from its founding in 1850 until 2008.On September 15, 2008, the firm filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection following the massive exodus of most of its clients, drastic losses in its stock, and devaluation of assets by credit rating agencies, largely sparked by Lehman's involvement in the subprime mortgage crisis, and its exposure to less liquid assets. Lehman's bankruptcy filing is the largest in US history, and is thought to have played a major role in the unfolding of the financial crisis of 2007-08. The market collapse also gave support to the "Too Big To Fail" doctrine.After Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, global markets immediately plummeted. The following day, Barclays announced its agreement to purchase, subject to regulatory approval, Lehman's North American investment-banking and trading divisions along with its New York headquarters building. On September 20, 2008, a revised version of that agreement was approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James M. Peck. The next week, Nomura Holdings announced that it would acquire Lehman Brothers' franchise in the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan, Hong Kong and Australia, as well as Lehman Brothers' investment banking and equities businesses in Europe and the Middle East. The deal became effective on October 13, 2008.List of counties in California
The U.S. state of California is divided into 58 counties. The region was first divided into twenty-seven counties on February 18, 1850. These were further sub-divided to form sixteen additional counties by 1860. Another fourteen were counties formed through further subdivision from 1861 to 1893. California is home to San Bernardino County, the largest county in the contiguous United States, as well as Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the United States. The most recent county to form was Imperial County, in 1907.
California counties are general law counties by default, but may be chartered as provided in Article XI, Section 3 of the California Constitution. A charter county is granted considerably more home rule authority than a general law county. Of the 58 counties in California, 14 are governed under a charter. They are Alameda, Butte, El Dorado, Fresno, Los Angeles, Orange, Placer, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Tehama.More counties in California are named for saints than in any other state.Millard Fillmore
Millard Fillmore (January 7, 1800 – March 8, 1874) was the 13th president of the United States (1850–1853), and the last to be a member of the Whig Party while in the White House. A former U.S. Representative from New York, Fillmore was elected the nation's 12th vice president in 1848, and succeeded to the presidency in July 1850 upon the death of President Zachary Taylor. He was instrumental in getting the Compromise of 1850 passed, a bargain that led to a brief truce in the battle over slavery. He failed to win the Whig nomination for president in 1852; he gained the endorsement of the nativist Know Nothing Party four years later, and finished third in that election.
Fillmore was born into poverty in the Finger Lakes area of New York state—his parents were tenant farmers during his formative years. Though he had little formal schooling, he rose from poverty through diligent study and became a successful attorney. He became prominent in the Buffalo area as an attorney and politician, was elected to the New York Assembly in 1828, and to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1832. Initially, he belonged to the Anti-Masonic Party, but became a Whig as the party formed in the mid-1830s; he was a rival for state party leadership with editor Thurlow Weed and Weed's protégé, William H. Seward. Through his career, Fillmore declared slavery an evil, but one beyond the powers of the federal government, whereas Seward was not only openly hostile to slavery, he argued that the federal government had a role to play in ending it. Fillmore was an unsuccessful candidate for Speaker of the House when the Whigs took control of the chamber in 1841, but was made Ways and Means Committee chairman. Defeated in bids for the Whig nomination for vice president in 1844, and for New York governor the same year, Fillmore was elected Comptroller of New York in 1847, the first to hold that post by direct election.
As vice president, Fillmore was largely ignored by Taylor, even in the dispensing of patronage in New York, on which Taylor consulted Weed and Seward. In his capacity as President of the Senate however, he presided over angry debates in the Senate as Congress decided whether to allow slavery in the Mexican Cession. Fillmore supported Henry Clay's Omnibus Bill (the basis of the 1850 Compromise) though Taylor did not. Upon becoming president in July 1850, Fillmore dismissed Taylor's cabinet and carried out his own policy priorities. He began by exerting pressure on Congress to pass the Compromise, highlighting how it gave legislative victories to both North and South – the five-bill package was approved and then enacted into law that September. The Fugitive Slave Act, expediting the return of escaped slaves to those who claimed ownership, was a controversial part of the Compromise, and Fillmore felt himself duty-bound to enforce it, though it damaged his popularity and also the Whig Party, which was torn North from South. In foreign policy, Fillmore supported U.S. Navy expeditions to open trade in Japan, opposed French designs on Hawaii, and was embarrassed by Narciso López's filibuster expeditions to Cuba. He sought election to a full term in 1852, but was passed over by the Whigs in favor of Winfield Scott.
As the Whig Party broke up after Fillmore's presidency, many in Fillmore's conservative wing joined the Know Nothings, forming the American Party. In his 1856 candidacy as that party's nominee, Fillmore had little to say about immigration, focusing instead on the preservation of the Union, and won only Maryland. In retirement, Fillmore was active in many civic endeavors—he helped in founding the University of Buffalo and served as its first chancellor. During the American Civil War, Fillmore denounced secession and agreed that the Union must be maintained by force if necessary, but was critical of the war policies of Abraham Lincoln. After peace was restored, he supported the Reconstruction policies of President Andrew Johnson. Though he is relatively obscure today, Fillmore has been praised by some, for his foreign policy, and criticized by others, for his enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act and his association with the Know Nothings. Historians and scholars have consistently ranked Fillmore as one of the worst presidents, and debate continues on to this day concerning whether Fillmore escalated the civil war by signing the Compromise of 1850.New Mexico Territory
The Territory of New Mexico was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed (with varying boundaries) from September 9, 1850, until January 6, 1912, when the remaining extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of New Mexico, making it the longest-lived organized incorporated territory of the United States, lasting approximately 62 years.Pinkerton (detective agency)
Pinkerton, founded as the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, is a private security guard and detective agency established in the United States by Scotsman Allan Pinkerton in 1850 and currently a subsidiary of Securitas AB. Pinkerton became famous when he claimed to have foiled a plot to assassinate president-elect Abraham Lincoln, who later hired Pinkerton agents for his personal security during the Civil War. Pinkerton's agents performed services ranging from security guarding to private military contracting work. Notably, the Pinkerton Detective Agency hired women and minorities, a practice uncommon at the time. Pinkerton was the largest private law enforcement organization in the world at the height of its power.During the labor strikes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, businessmen hired the Pinkerton Agency to infiltrate unions, supply guards, keep strikers and suspected unionists out of factories, and recruit goon squads to intimidate workers. One such confrontation was the Homestead Strike of 1892, in which Pinkerton agents were called in to reinforce the strikebreaking measures of industrialist Henry Clay Frick, acting on behalf of Andrew Carnegie. The ensuing battle between Pinkerton agents and striking workers led to the deaths of seven Pinkerton agents and nine steelworkers. The Pinkertons were also used as guards in coal, iron, and lumber disputes in Illinois, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia as well as the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 and the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921.
The company now operates as "Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations, Inc. d.b.a. Pinkerton Corporate Risk Management", a division of the Swedish security company Securitas AB. The former Government Services division, PGS, now operates as Securitas Critical Infrastructure Services, Inc.Robert Peel
Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet, (5 February 1788 – 2 July 1850) was a British statesman and Conservative Party politician who served twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1834–35 and 1841–46) and twice as Home Secretary (1822–27 and 1828–30). He is regarded as the father of modern British policing, owing to his founding of the Metropolitian Police Service. Peel was one of the founders of the modern Conservative Party.
The son of a wealthy textile-manufacturer and politician, Peel was the first prime minister from an industrial business background. He earned a double first in classics and mathematics from Christ Church, Oxford. He entered the House of Commons in 1809, where he became a rising star in the Tory Party. Peel entered the Cabinet as Home Secretary (1822–1827), where he reformed and liberalised the criminal law and created the modern police force, leading to a new type of officer known in tribute to him as "bobbies" and "peelers". After a brief period out of office he returned as Home Secretary under his political mentor the Duke of Wellington (1828–1830), also serving as Leader of the House of Commons. Initially a supporter of continued legal discrimination against Catholics, Peel reversed himself and supported the repeal of the Test Act (1828) and the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829, claiming that "though emancipation was a great danger, civil strife was a greater danger".After being in the Opposition 1830-34, he became Prime Minister in November 1834. Peel issued the Tamworth Manifesto (December 1834), laying down the principles upon which the modern British Conservative Party is based. His first ministry was a minority government, dependent on Whig support and with Peel serving as his own Chancellor of the Exchequer. After only four months, his government collapsed and he served as Leader of the Opposition during Melbourne's second government (1835–1841). Peel became Prime Minister again after the 1841 general election. His second government ruled for five years. He cut tariffs to stimulate trade, replacing the lost revenue with a 3% income tax. He played a central role in making free trade a reality and set up a modern banking system. His government's major legislation included the Mines and Collieries Act 1842, the Income Tax Act 1842, the Factories Act 1844 and the Railway Regulation Act 1844. Peel's government was weakened by anti-Catholic sentiment following the controversial increase in the Maynooth Grant of 1845. After the outbreak of the Great Irish Famine, his decision to join with Whigs and Radicals to repeal the Corn Laws led to his resignation as Prime Minister in 1846. Peel remained an influential MP and leader of the Peelite faction until his death in 1850.
Peel often started from a traditional Tory position in opposition to a measure, then reversed his stance and became the leader in supporting liberal legislation. This happened with the Test Act, Catholic Emancipation, the Reform Act, income tax and, most notably, the repeal of the Corn Laws. Historian A.J.P. Taylor says: "Peel was in the first rank of 19th century statesmen. He carried Catholic Emancipation; he repealed the Corn Laws; he created the modern Conservative Party on the ruins of the old Toryism."Whig Party (United States)
The Whig Party was a political party active in the middle of the 19th century in the United States. Four presidents belonged to the party while in office. It emerged in the 1830s as the leading opponent of Jacksonian democracy, pulling together former members of the National Republican (one of the successors of the Democratic-Republican Party) and the Anti-Masonic Party. It had some links to the upscale traditions of the long-defunct Federalist Party. Along with the rival Democratic Party, it was central to the Second Party System from the early 1840s to the mid-1860s. It originally formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson (in office 1829–1837) and his Democratic Party. It became a formal party within his second term, and slowly receded influence after 1854.
In particular terms, the Whigs supported the supremacy of Congress over the presidency and favored a program of modernization, banking and economic protectionism to stimulate manufacturing. It appealed to entrepreneurs, planters, reformers and the emerging urban middle class, but had little appeal to farmers or unskilled workers. It included many active Protestants and voiced a moralistic opposition to the Jacksonian Indian removal. Party founders chose the "Whig" name to echo the American Whigs (aka the Patriots) of the 18th century who fought for independence. The political philosophy of the American Whig Party was not related to the British Whig party. Historian Frank Towers has specified a deep ideological divide:
The Whig Party nominated several presidential candidates in 1836. General William Henry Harrison of Ohio was nominated in 1840, former Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky in 1844, General Zachary Taylor of Louisiana in 1848, General Winfield Scott of New Jersey in 1852 and the last nominee, former President Millard Fillmore from New York in 1856. In its two decades of existence, the Whig Party had two of its candidates, Harrison and Taylor, elected president and both died in office. John Tyler succeeded to the presidency after Harrison's death in 1841, but was expelled from the party later that year. Millard Fillmore, who became President after Taylor's death in 1850, was the last Whig President.
The party fell apart because of internal tension over the expansion of slavery to the territories. With deep fissures in the party on this question, the anti-slavery faction prevented the nomination for a full term of its own incumbent President Fillmore in the 1852 presidential election—instead, the party nominated General Scott. Most Whig Party leaders eventually quit politics (as Abraham Lincoln did temporarily) or changed parties. The Northern voter base mostly gravitated to the new Republican Party. In the South, most joined the Know Nothing Party, which unsuccessfully ran Fillmore in the 1856 presidential election, by which time the Whig Party had become virtually defunct having merely endorsed Millard Fillmore's candidacy. Some former Whigs became Democrats. The Constitutional Union Party experienced significant success from conservative former Whigs in the Upper South during the 1860 presidential election. Whig ideology as a policy orientation persisted for decades, and played a major role in shaping the modernizing policies of the state governments during Reconstruction.William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth (7 April 1770 – 23 April 1850) was a major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with their joint publication Lyrical Ballads (1798).
Wordsworth's magnum opus is generally considered to be The Prelude, a semi-autobiographical poem of his early years that he revised and expanded a number of times. It was posthumously titled and published by his wife in the year of his death, before which it was generally known as "the poem to Coleridge". Wordsworth was Britain's poet laureate from 1843 until his death from pleurisy on 23 April 1850.Zachary Taylor
Zachary Taylor (November 24, 1784 – July 9, 1850) was the 12th president of the United States, serving from March 1849 until his death in July 1850. Taylor previously was a career officer in the United States Army, rose to the rank of major general and became a national hero as a result of his victories in the Mexican–American War. As a result, he won election to the White House despite his vague political beliefs. His top priority as president was preserving the Union, but he died sixteen months into his term, before making any progress on the status of slavery, which had been inflaming tensions in Congress.
Taylor was born into a prominent family of plantation owners who moved westward from Virginia to Kentucky in his youth. He was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army in 1808 and made a name for himself as a Captain in the War of 1812. He climbed the ranks establishing military forts along the Mississippi River and entered the Black Hawk War as a Colonel in 1832. His success in the Second Seminole War attracted national attention and earned him the nickname "Old Rough and Ready". In 1845, during the annexation of Texas, President James K. Polk dispatched Taylor to the Rio Grande in anticipation of a battle with Mexico over the disputed Texas–Mexico border. The Mexican–American War broke out in April 1846, and Taylor defeated Mexican troops commanded by General Mariano Arista at the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma and drove his troops out of Texas. Taylor then led his troops into Mexico, where they defeated Mexican troops commanded by Pedro de Ampudia at the Battle of Monterrey. Defying orders, Taylor led his troops further south and, despite being severely outnumbered, dealt a crushing blow to Mexican forces under Antonio López de Santa Anna at the Battle of Buena Vista. Taylor's troops were transferred to the command of Major General Winfield Scott, but Taylor retained his popularity.
The Whig Party convinced the reluctant Taylor to lead their ticket in the 1848 presidential election, despite his unclear political tenets and lack of interest in politics. At the 1848 Whig National Convention, Taylor defeated Scott and former Senator Henry Clay to take the nomination. He won the general election alongside New York politician Millard Fillmore, defeating Democratic Party candidates Lewis Cass and William Orlando Butler, as well as a third-party effort led by former president Martin Van Buren and Charles Francis Adams, Sr. of the Free Soil Party. Taylor became the first president to be elected without having served in a prior political office.
As president, Taylor kept his distance from Congress and his cabinet, even though partisan tensions threatened to divide the Union. Debate over the status of slavery in the Mexican Cession dominated the political agenda and led to threats of secession from Southerners. Despite being a Southerner and a slaveholder himself, Taylor did not push for the expansion of slavery, and sought sectional harmony above all other concerns. To avoid the issue of slavery, he urged settlers in New Mexico and California to bypass the territorial stage and draft constitutions for statehood, setting the stage for the Compromise of 1850. Taylor died suddenly of a stomach-related illness in July 1850, with his administration having accomplished little aside from the ratification of the Clayton–Bulwer Treaty. Fillmore served the remainder of his term. Historians and scholars have ranked Taylor in the bottom quartile of U.S. presidents, owing in part to his short term of office (16 months), and he has been described as "more a forgettable president than a failed one."