War hero and president are how Zachary Taylor is usually remembered, if at all. Though obscure today, he was at one time one of the most famous figures in the country. An Arkansas resident for a time, “Old Rough and Ready,” as his troops affectionately called him, stirred the nation’s imagination.

Taylor was born into a wealthy plantation family in central Virginia in 1784. As a youth, his family left Virginia for Kentucky. The area was still largely a wild frontier region, and Taylor received little formal education. However, he was known for being a quick thinker and for a sense of curiosity about the world.

Dr. Ken Bridges is a Professor of History at South Arkansas Community College in El Dorado. He has written seven books and his columns appear in more than 85 papers in two states. Dr. Bridges can be contacted by email at kbridges@southark.edu.

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