President Zachary Taylor

President Zachary Taylor's coffin.

President Zachary Taylor's coffin.

President Taylor's tomb located in the Zachary Taylor National Cemetary in Louisville, Kentucky. 

President Taylor's tomb located in the Zachary Taylor National Cemetary in Louisville, Kentucky. 

In 1850, President Zachary Taylor, having served a little more than a year in office, unexpectedly fell ill after consuming a meal and died shortly after in what some suggested could be mysterious circumstances. In 1991, a curious novelist approached Dr. William Maples inquiring as to whether or not Taylor’s illness could have been the result of a successful assassination attempt by way of arsenic poisoning. Initially reluctant to pursue the rigorous task of attempting to exhume the remains of a former U.S. President, Dr. Maples was eventually compelled by the potential effect on American history should the theory prove to be correct. 

Dr. William Maples and crew examining the skeletal remains.

Dr. William Maples and crew examining the skeletal remains.

Requisite permissions cleared, Dr. Maples and a team traveled to the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky. After collecting small samples of hair, nails, and bone, tests were performed to uncover whether or not arsenic was present in Taylor’s body at the time of death. Though trace amounts were discovered, it was similar to the levels present in the majority of individuals who lived during that time. Cleared of suspicions of poisoning, it is now widely believed that President Zachary Taylor likely met his end from a combination of contaminated food and inadequate medical care. 

President Zachary Taylor