1847 CONGRESSIONAL RESOLUTIONS OF THANKS TO GEN. ZACHARY TAYLOR AND HIS OFFICERS AND MEN FOR MONTERREY, PERSONALLY DISPATCHED BY PRESIDENT POLK

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Zachary Taylor received the formal thanks of Congress three times, along with gold medals, for victories in the Mexican War, the largest number of such resolutions and awards made by Congress to anyone. This is an official State Department copy on vellum, bearing the signature of James Buchanan as Secretary of State and seal of the Department of State, of the Congressional resolution of thanks to Taylor and the officers and men under his command for his victory at Monterrey and confers on him a gold medal and six swords (all engraved with suitable emblems and devices) to different generals (including one posthumously.)

Dated 14 May 1847, this was certainly one of the “authenticated copies” referred to by President James Polk in a handwritten letter dated the same day, formerly in the Raab Collection. In that letter Polk directs the Secretary of War that accompanying letters and, “authenticated copies of the joint resolution of Congress, ‘giving the thanks of Congress to Major General Taylor and the officers and men under his command in the late military operations at Monterrey,’” are to be “enveloped and addressed respectively to those officers” and returned to him so that he may personally free frank them for mailing. There is certainly one of those “authenticated copies” of the Congressional resolutions personally sent out by Polk.

The text is as follows:

 

Twenty-ninth Congress of the United States,

At the Second Session,

Begun and Held at the City of Washington in the District of Columbia, on Monday

the seventh day of December, one thousand eight hundred and forty-six

___

 

Resolutions giving the thanks of Congress to Major General Taylor, and the officers and men under his command, in the late military operations at Monterey.

___

 

Resolved, Unanimously, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the thanks of Congress are due, and are hereby ten-

dered, to Major General Zachary Taylor, his officers and men, for the fortitude, skill, enter-

prise, and courage which distinguished the late brilliant military operations at Monterey.

Resolved, That the President be requested to cause to be struck a gold medal with devices

emblematical of this splendid achievement, and presented to General Taylor as a testimony of the

high sense entertained by Congress of his judicious and distinguished conduct on that memorable

occasion.

Resolved, That the President of the United States be further requested to cause swords, with

suitable devices, to be presented to Major General Butler, Major General Henderson, and to

Brigadier General Twiggs, Brigadier General Worth , and Brigadier General Quitman, in

testimony of the high sense entertained by Congress of their gallantry and good conduct in

storming Monterey.

Resolved, That the President of the United States be further requested to present a sword,

with suitable devices, to the nearest male relative of Brigadier General Hamer, and to commu-

nicate to him the deep regret which Congress feels for the loss of a gallant man , whose name

ought to live in the recollection and affection of a grateful Country.

Resolved, That the President be requested to cause the foregoing resolutions to be commu-

nicated to General Taylor, and, through him, to the army under his command.

John W. Davis, Speaker of the House of Representatives

G.M. Dallas, President of the Senate

Approved, March 2 , 1847

James K. Polk

____

United States of America, Department of State

To all to whom these presents shall come, Greeting:

I certify that the above is a true and complete copy of “resolutions

giving the thanks of Congress to Major General Taylor, and the officers and men under his

command in the late military operations at Monterey.” transcribed from and carefully collated with the original Roll on file in this Department. In Testimony whereof, I, James

Buchanan, Secretary of State of the United States, have hereunto

Subscribed my name, and caused the seal of the Department of State

to be affixed. Done at the City of Washington this fourteenth

day of May, A.D. 1847, and of the Independence of the United

States of America the seventy-first.

James Buchanan

{SEAL OF THE DEPT OF STATE}

 

Taylor had been ordered to defend Texas in 1845 and in 1846 moved his army to the Rio Grande, where he constructed Fort Brown across the river from Matamoros, regarded as a provocation by Mexico. In May the war started in earnest, with Taylor continually moving south, defeating Mexican forces at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, besieging Monterey and taking it by assault in September 1846, and defeating the Mexican Army at Buena Vista in February 1847, all of which shielded the Texas border and gave the U.S. control of northern Mexico. He was then directed by President Polk to assume a defensive posture while resources were diverted to Winfield Scott’s push from Vera Cruz, as much to curb Taylor’s political aspirations as for strategic purposes. Nevertheless, Taylor was three times voted the thanks of Congress and three times awarded a gold medal for his victories, and in this case Polk’s personal free franking the documents was certainly an endorsement, at least publicly, of the awards.

This historic document is in very good condition and displays impressively, exhibiting just some folds and very minor soiling. One small hole at center was professionally repaired. The text is completely legible, without fading, the seal at lower left shows a thin reddish tone at center and is fully intact. This would make a centerpiece in a Mexican War collection and, needless to say, would be a fitting accompaniment to Taylor’s medal or one of the swords.  [sr] [ph:m]

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