Gen. Zachary Taylor acquired the nickname “Old Rough and Ready” during the Second Seminole War (1835-1842) in Florida. He garnered even more national attention a few years later, during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848).
He rode his popularity all the way to the White House, though he was only in office for sixteen months (March 1849 to July 1850) before unexpectedly dying of a gastrointestinal illness on July 9th.
According to the 1850 U.S. Census, many baby boys were named Zachary Taylor (and, less often, Zachariah Taylor) in the late 1840s. Even more interesting, though, is the fact that about a dozen boys were listed as “Rough & Ready” (or some variation thereof):
- Rough & Ready Hickey, a 3-year-old in Alabama.
- Rough & Ready Reece, a newborn in Tennessee.
- Rough & Ready Saunders, a 3-year-old in Virginia.
- Rough & Ready Watson, a 2-year-old in Mississippi.
- Here’s the grave of Ruff R. Watson (1947-1928).
- Rough & Ready Sansing, a 3-year-old in Mississippi
- Here’s the grave of Ruffin Sansing (1947-1922).
- Rough & Ready Payne, a 1-year-old in Louisiana.
- Rough & Ready Shutes, a 2-year-old in Wisconsin.
- Here’s the grave of Zachary Taylor Shutes (1848-1935).
- Rough & Ready Morton, a newborn in Tennessee.
- Rough & Ready Justice, a 1-year-old in Texas.
- Rough & Reddy Calloway, a 1-year-old in Georgia.
- Rough & Readdy Worthington, a 5-year-old in Maryland.
In some cases, “Rough & Ready” was just a nickname for Zachary/Zachariah Taylor. In other cases, though, “Rough and Ready” really was the name — though, over time, “Rough &” often morphed into “Ruffin.”