Victory at Palo Alto

Zachary Taylor, 1849
Zachary Taylor,
Mathew B. Brady, photographer,
By Popular Demand: Portraits of the Presidents and First Ladies, 1789-Present

On May 8, 1846, General Zachary Taylor defeated a detachment of the Mexican army in a two-day battle at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma. This victory forced Mexican troops across the Rio Grande river to Matamoros, protecting the newly annexed state of Texas from invasion. Five days later, the United States declared war against Mexico. At the direction of President James K. Polk, General Taylor led American forces on to brilliant victories at Monterrey and Buena Vista.

After a childhood on the Kentucky frontier, Taylor spent most of his adult life in the army. Widely admired for his military prowess, he was elected president on the 1848 Whig ticket. His administration was marred by improprieties on the part of cabinet members and controversies surrounding territory acquired by settlement of the Mexican-American War. Taylor died before the Compromise of 1850 resolved these issues, having served just 16 months in office.

Thomas W. Strong, engraver,
American Political Prints
Prints and Photographs Division

Campaign poster for Democratic nominee Zachary Taylor. The victorious Mexican War general is shown mounted on a white charger. He holds a wide-brimmed straw hat. The scene is flanked by two columns entwined with banners bearing the names of Taylor's victories: Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma on the left, and Monterey and Buena Vista on the right.