Zachary Taylor by Joseph Henry Bush, c1848
Zachary Taylor by Joseph Henry Bush, c1848

So, the 4th of July is coming up and I don’t really know any folktales that go with the occasion. If you know of any, let me know and I can use it next year.

I did find an interesting story about President Zachary Taylor’s death at that has a July 4th connection. President Taylor began his Fourth of July in 1850 by attending an event at the Washington Monument. The day was oppressively hot, and Taylor cooled off by drinking copious amounts of ice water. After the event, Taylor reportedly returned to the White House, where he downed glasses of cold milk and ate vast quantities of green apples and cherries. The next day, complaining of severe intestinal cramps and diarrhea, Taylor was diagnosed with cholera morbus, or what today would be called gastroenteritis. It is also possible he may have contracted cholera, which occurred frequently during the summer months in hot, humid Washington during the 1800s, when sewage systems were primitive at best. The bacteria could have been present in the water or iced milk Taylor drank. As Taylor’s illness waxed and waned over the next few days, his doctor treated him with opium, calomel (a powder compound high in mercury), bleeding and blistering. Whether from the disease or the “cure,” Tyler died in the White House on July 9. No one suggested it might have been foul play even though Taylor, a Mexican War hero, adamantly opposed slavery and vowed to personally lead a military attack against any state that threatened to secede from the Union.

Not really a fairy tale today, but an interesting story nonetheless.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.


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