Zachary Taylor, "Ol' Rough and Ready," became the second President to die in office in just nine years.

The Tyler Precedent is Confirmed

On Independence Day 1850, President Zachary Taylor kicks off what would today be a four-day holiday weekend by consuming a large amount of food presented to him by well-meaning citizens at a public celebration.  Almost immediately Taylor would fall ill, and the following morning would summon Dr. Alexander Witherspoon.  Witherspoon diagnosed the President with cholera - an illness Taylor had suffered shortly after taking office a year earlier.  He prescribed calomel (a mercury-based laxative) and opium.  Because if you're on a laxative, you naturally want to be high on opium so you can soil yourself.

Over the next four days President Taylor's condition would worsen, and at 10:35 on the evening of Tuesday, July 9th, he died of either gastroenteritis or cholera.  But in the late 1980's, conspiracy theorists surmised that Taylor had, in fact, been murdered by poisoning.  After some persuasion of the President's descendants, on June 17, 1991 Taylor's body was exhumed in a solemn ceremony.  Hair, fingernail, and tissue samples were taken and analyzed.  Ultimately assassination by poisoning was ruled out, but the exact means of Taylor's death couldn't be ascertained.

There was one mystery, or at least a potential controversy, that would be laid to rest in 1850 along with the body of the 12th President.  Upon his death, Vice President Millard Fillmore would be almost immediately sworn into office as his successor.  The inauguration was conducted with none of the hue and cry that surrounded John Tyler's ascent to the presidency nine years earlier.  Fillmore's inauguration would confirm the Tyler Precedent and, in effect, make it de facto law.