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Sarah Knox Taylor

Sarah Knox Taylor (birth March 6, 1814, Vincennes, Indiana - death September 15, 1835, St. Francisville, Louisiana) was the daughter of General Zachary Taylor, later President of the United States and Margaret Taylor, and was married to Jefferson Davis before he became President of the Confederate States of America.

While living at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin where her father commanded Fort Crawford and fought Black Hawk War, Sarah met and fell in love with her father's second in command, Jefferson Davis, later President of the Confederate States of America. Davis was a recent graduate of the United States Military Academy and a lieutenant at the time.

Taylor admired Davis for his soldiering skills, but opposed the romantic match. He and his wife, whose older daughter had already married Army surgeon Robert C. Wood, and was raising three young children in a desolate frontier outpost, felt that frontier Army life would be too harsh for Sarah.

Complying with Taylor's wish, Davis resigned from the Army and married Sarah Knox Taylor on June 17, 1835 at the home of her aunt, near Louisville, Kentucky. Both of the newlyweds contracted malaria, and she died three months later at the Louisiana home of his sister.


Davis was devastated by the death of his young wife, as were her parents. Her death caused years of ill will between the two, which was finally resolved in a chance meeting between Davis and Taylor in 1845 on a Mississippi steamboat.

Recovering from his own illness, and in need of respite from the loss of his wife, Davis sailed to Havana, Cuba, and then to New York City. In 1836, he retired to the Brierfield Plantation in Warren County, Mississippi.

Davis remarried in 1845, and served in the Mexican-American War with distinction under Taylor at the Battle of Buena Vista. Later he became a Senator from Mississippi, Secretary of War, and finally President of the Confederate States of America in 1861.


  • The North Carolina booklet : Oct. 1920, Jan. - Apr. 1921, vol. XX, nos. 2,3,4. ; Raleigh : Daughters of the Revolution, North Carolina Society, 1921. OCLC 36894682

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