A President Died Eating A Fourth Of July Dessert
In 1850, the president of the United States was Zachary Taylor, who's most remembered for ... uh ... well, Taylor isn't remembered for much. We've previously pointed out that Taylor was notable for holding no office before becoming president and for not even having voted before becoming president, and for winning despite not campaigning.
On July 4, 1850, President Taylor toured the D.C. site where they were building the Washington Monument. This relatively simple structure would take decades to actually finish construction, thanks to a bunch of hiccups (funding issues, a war splitting the nation apart, etc.) and after listening to a speech, Taylor headed back to the White House.
He now ordered several helpings of a snack: cherries and wild berries, served with iced milk. We think "iced milk" refers to a kind of dessert, which is just like ice cream but with milk instead of cream. It could also refer to just a big glass of milk chilled with ice cubes, which sounds kind of gross, though we can't explain exactly why.
Stomach pains set in soon after. Doctors diagnosed him with cholera morbus—which is not an actual disease, or anything to do with cholera, but simply the phrase they used for gut mishaps. The pain worsened as days passed. Taylor predicted he would soon die, and his doctors said, "Well, yeah, probably."
He died on July 9. At the time, many people assumed someone must have murdered him, possibly over this "slavery" issue that was attracting increasing unrest. In fact, with science pretty limited at the time, no one was ever able to declare a cause of death with certainty. In 1991, we actually exhumed his body to test for poison, and we found nothing that shouldn't have been there. All we can say is he died crapping and vomiting, a fit that began with a frozen Fourth of July treat.
This fact came from the One Cracked Fact newsletter. Want more like this, straight from your email inbox, without any ads or popups? Join here:
For more on Taylor, check out:
Top image: Marco Verch