Mary Elizabeth Bliss

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Mary Elizabeth Taylor Bliss, born Mary Elizabeth Taylor (April 20, 1824 – July 25, 1909), was the youngest of the five daughters of President Zachary Taylor (1849-1850) and Margaret Mackall Smith Taylor.

In 1848, after her father was elected president, Mary Elizabeth married William Wallace Smith Bliss, an army officer who had served with her father. Taylor appointed William Bliss as Presidential Secretary. At the age of 22, Mary Elizabeth Bliss served as First Lady during her father's presidency, as her mother declined the social role.[1]

Her father, mother and husband all died by 1853. Mary Elizabeth Bliss remarried five years later and had a long life.

Early life and education[edit]

Mary Elizabeth was born as the youngest daughter of five to Margaret Mackall Smith and Zachary Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, then on the frontier. She also had a younger brother Richard. She and her siblings grew up alternately at their plantation in Louisville and United States Army forts, where her father, a career Army officer, was often in command. Her mother mostly taught the children at home, sometimes with the help of tutors or young officers at forts. In the late 1820s, the family moved to a plantation near Baton Rouge, as her father was purchasing land in Louisiana.

In the early 1830s, the family was with Taylor at Fort Crawford as he waged the Black Hawk War. Later they returned to Baton Rouge when he went to Florida for the Seminole War and to Texas.

Marriage and family[edit]

On December 8, 1848, Mary married William Wallace Smith Bliss, an army officer who had served with her father.[2]

Political career[edit]

Zachary Taylor was elected to the presidency in 1848, and was inaugurated in 1849. He appointed William Bliss as his Presidential Secretary.

As President Taylor's wife declined, Mary Elizabeth Bliss served as First Lady for her father for official White House functions, starting at the age of 22. She and William Bliss were excited about their roles in Washington.

On July 9, 1850, the Taylor presidency ended with Zachary Taylor's death. Mary and William Bliss accompanied her widowed mother to Pascagoula, Mississippi, where she lived with another married daughter until her death two years later in 1852. The following year, William Bliss died of yellow fever contracted in New Orleans.[2] Mary Elizabeth Bliss was a widow at the age of 29.

On February 11, 1858, she married again, to Philip Pendelton Dandridge.[2] They had children. Mary Taylor Bliss Dandridge lived until the age of 85.


  1. ^ Smith, Elbert B. (2007). President Zachary Taylor: The Hero President. Nova Publishers. p. 157. ISBN 978-1-60021-602-2. 
  2. ^ a b c Commire, Anne; Deborah Klezmer (2001). Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Yorkin Publications. p. 225. ISBN 978-0-7876-4074-3.