Can’t we have one meeting that doesn’t end with us digging up a corpse? — Mayor Quimby, “Lisa the Iconoclast”
The mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Zachary Taylor may never be solved, but historian Clara Rising gave it the old college try in 1991 when she succeeded in convincing Taylor’s kin to allow the exhumation of the moldy, old corpse of the 12th U.S. President.
Taylor—or “Old Rough and Ready”, as he liked to be called—died unexpectedly on July 9, 1850. The official cause of death was listed as “bilious diarrhœa or bilious cholera”, so this was clearly before the advent of public relations firms.
Check out this old-timey obit in the Boston Evening Transcript. Notice anything odd? That’s right: the death of the president is included as a news item on the second page of the paper. Quite the news day.
Taylor was buried sans autopsy and the nation moved on.
But 141 years later Prof. Rising theorized that the president had been poisoned. The irascible Taylor had political enemies a’plenty, and the professor theorized one of them had pulled off the homicide.
Problem is, the autopsy showed only insignificant traces of arsenic, and the decomposition process left little to go on. Let’s see what the coroner has to say about it.
If you didn’t watch that video, here’s the money quote:
…we obtained fingernails—all ten fingernails—we obtained sideburns, hair, pubic hair, even…
One more thing to worry about.