WI: Zachary Taylor survives his First Term

What would happen in American History were Zachary Taylor able to survive his stomach illness just 14 months into his Presidency, and continue on with his first term? How would he have addressed the issue of Slavery? Would his survival have affected the 1850 Compromise? Would have the Civil War occurred earlier? Would the Whig Party still be doomed to disintegration?

Can someone make a timeline exploring this?
 
For a long time, there was a wide belief that Taylor opposed the Compromise of 1850, and that his death and replacement by Fillmore allowed the Compromise to go through, averting civil war. This was the view of R. A. Billington in his highly regarded work Westward Expansion.

However, I saw (maybe 20 years ago, but still more recent than Billington) a work on the the Taylor and Fillmore Presidency, which argued otherwise. The author pointed out that Taylor had made no explicit statements regarding the Compromise, and that the newspaper regarded as the administration's "voice" had come out in support. Taylor had surprised Southerners by supporting immediate admission of California as a free state, but that alone was not going to provoke a fatal breach.

So IMHO the Compromise passes, much as OTL. Taylor may be more forceful than Fillmore in blocking Texan pretensions to eastern New Mexico.

He won't run for re-election - one term only was a Whig principle.
 

Japhy

Banned
There was no single Compromise in 1850 but a series of smaller ones. In supporting Free State Admission for California, Taylor had nailed his colors to the pole. As a Southerner he would presumably be able to give some concessions to the South and get more than Filmore was willing to try for, but it would still be a compromise. Regardless, there would not likely be a war in 1850, though 1852 would be another matter if Southern "Honor" felt overly offended.

The death of the Whigs at this point is preordained. John Tyler had already overseen the development of the regional-partisan divide on one hand, and the Whigs were always a party of worship to Henry Clay, his departure from the scene means their listlessness can't he righted.
 
I did an old soc.history.what-if post on this subject:

***

I have recently been reading Elbert B. Smith, *The Presidencies of
Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore* (Lawrence: University Press of
Kansas 1988) and he makes some interesting points against the commonly
held belief that Taylor opposed the Compromise of 1850 and would have
vetoed it if he had lived. Smith suggests that there was really much
less difference here between Taylor and Fillmore than is often held.

When people say Taylor opposed the Compromise, they mean that he opposed
the Clay "Omnibus"--an attempt to address all the sectional issues in one
law. To Taylor, this was an improper attempt to combine unrelated matters
in order to use California as a bargaining chip for the ambitions of
Texas against New Mexico. But the Omnibus was never going to pass,
anyway, regardless of whether Taylor supported it. (Incidentally, even
Clay did not like the "Omnibus" concept--he came out for a combination
bill only after being pressured to do so by Foote and other Southerners.)
And--the crucial point--Taylor's opposition to the Omnibus does *not*
necessarily mean he would have vetoed the component parts of the
Compromise, presented as individual bills for his signature. In fact,
Taylor had often restated the standard Whig principle that the veto power
should only be used in exceptional cases--e.g., unconstitutional or hasty
and ill-considered legislation. Smith argues (p. 146-7):

"Both strong evidence and logic, therefore, indicate that Taylor would
have approved every part of the compromise in the form it ultimately
assumed when passed. The admission of California to immediate statehood
was Taylor's own idea. His policy toward New Mexico was a means to an
end rather than an end in itself. The final grant of self-determination
on slavery to a viable New Mexican territory with its populated areas
intact would certainly have satisfied him. He might have disliked the
financial reward given Texas for ceding most of its New Mexican claim,
but the measure was certainly constitutional, and a veto of it would have
contradicted everything he had said about the veto principle. A
slaveholder could not have objected seriously to a new fugitive-slave
act, and nothing he ever did or said indicates any objection to moving
the [DC] slave markets across the Potomac River into Virginia."

Of course, saying that Taylor would not have vetoed the Compromise does
not necessarily mean that it would have passed in the first place had he
still been president. Positive aid, not just a willingness not to veto,
was if not absolutely necessary, at least helpful, and here Fillmore was
certainly more useful than Taylor could have been. As Smith notes,
Fillmore, having served as Congressman and Vice-President, was better
acquainted personally with members of Congress, was more tactful,
understood the workings of the system better, etc. The mere fact that he
was known as an enemy of Seward's made some Southerners more friendly to
the compromise, and he apparently did use personal relations and make a
few patronage promises when the compromise was in its final stages. But
Smith thinks that by then pro-compromise sentiment was so strong in most
states (South Carolina of course being an exception) that passage was
practically assured.

BTW, Smith also suggests that had Taylor lived and presided over a
Compromise he would have been renominated and probably re-elected--and as a
slaveholder who did not believe slavery needed to expand, he would
definitely have opposed the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. (I agree
that he could have been renominated--even Fillmore almost was, despite his
reluctance to seek renomination. I am more dubious about his re-election;
this requires that he carry most of the South plus all the Northern states
that Scott carried in OTL and a couple where he came close.)

https://groups.google.com/d/msg/soc.history.what-if/BMyk87mPqlI/IRTPhI-M3fsJ

***

I should add that Michael Holt (in *The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party* puts more emphasis than Smith on Fillmore's role in getting the Compromise passed. The key vote, according to Holt, was the passage of the so-called "Little Omnibus" by 107-99. (Some of the preliminary votes were even closer.) Critical for its passage was the support of a number of Northern Whigs who had previously opposed any organization of new territories without the Wilmot Proviso. Holt thinks that while they may have been seriously worried about saving the Union, they were also influenced by the use of patronage by Fillmore and his Secretary of State, Webster. Holt's analysis can be found on pp. 539-543 of *The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party.* https://books.google.com/books?id=5aGyVFn3VnMC&pg=PA539
 
BTW, Smith also suggests that had Taylor lived and presided over a
Compromise he would have been renominated and probably re-elected--and as a
slaveholder who did not believe slavery needed to expand, he would
definitely have opposed the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. (I agree
that he could have been renominated--even Fillmore almost was, despite his
reluctance to seek renomination. I am more dubious about his re-election;
this requires that he carry most of the South plus all the Northern states
that Scott carried in OTL and a couple where he came close.)

https://groups.google.com/d/msg/soc.history.what-if/BMyk87mPqlI/IRTPhI-M3fsJ

***

Though it could still have mattered.

Had Taylor done a bit better than Scott in the North (even while losing) he might have saved a dozen or so Whig Congressmen who lost their seats OTL. Since Northern Whigs were pretty solidly against the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, that would be enough to defeat it.
 
No Kansas-Nebraska may mean no Republican Party. Many Northerners were outraged and radicalized by what they saw as a blatant act of aggressive expansionism.
 
In theory they didn't, but that didn't stop Fillmore trying for the 1852 nomination.

FWIW, Taylor never ruled a second term out (unlike Harrison in his inauguration address), and there was no real Whig platform in 1848 to bind him. (See http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=25855 for the closest thing to a Whig platform in 1848; it was just a series of resolutions saying in effect, "General Taylor is a great man. Vote for him.") "In early January [1849] Taylor rebuffed a Crittenden suggestion that he announce he would not seek a second term." K. Jack Bauer, *Zachary Taylor: Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest,* p. 250. https://books.google.com/books?id=H42TwTwE1IwC&pg=PA250

As for Fillmore, I suppose he could argue that he was only seeking a first *elective* term, anyway, just as some supporters of a third term for TR insisted it would only be his second elective term... https://books.google.com/books?id=BgkiAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA608
 
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