In 1850, on this day US President Zachary Taylor smells something funny in his dinner, and decides to throw it away rather than eat it. He complains to the White House kitchen, and the chef, upset that his cooking might be unacceptable, is somewhat surprised to find the dish he prepared still sitting on a counter.
President Zachary Taylor SurvivesThe staff immediately search the mansion and find Cletus Earl Hargrove, a Kentuckian like the president, who had slipped poison into the president's food in retaliation against Taylor's anti-slavery stance. Hargrove, terrified at being caught, names four co-conspirators, one of whom is a southern senator.
The resulting trial on assassination charges rocks the nation, and makes Taylor a revered figure even in the south. Abolitionists use the trial to advance their agenda, and President Taylor introduces his Slow Freedom Initiative at the beginning of his second term in 1853. Under the terms of the initiative, all those born to slaves after the passage of the act would be free Americans; their parents would be freed once the free children reached the age of 18 years.
A new article by Robbie TaylorAlthough many Freedmen and abolitionists thought this was far too long a process, the south grudgingly accepted it as a way to hold onto a dying institution for a few more years. The last living American slave, Nathan Thomason of Cold Pork, Alabama, was given his freedom by presidential decree in 1937 at the age of 85 - he had been born the year before the SFI, and had never had children. He died shortly afterwards, but one of his cousins said, "At least he didn't have to die bound to that dastardly Thomason blackguard".
Following the passing of this dark chapter in American history, the country moved forward fairly united. Although racism against African-Americans was still quite strong in some pockets of the country, the long process of the SFI had made most Americans take a hard look at themselves and question why they had ever thought that one race of people should hold another captive. African-American Congressman Malcolm Little of Michigan proposed a national holiday to honor President Taylor in 1961, and the motion passed almost unanimously.