Zachary Taylor (1784-1850), the twelfth president of the United States, appears on the 12-cent denomination of the 1938 Presidential Series. A bust displayed in the Rotunda of the Virginia State Capitol inspired the image. The Postal Service issued the violet stamp in sheet form on September 14, 1938.
A soldier for over forty years, 'Old Rough and Ready' supposedly never lost a battle. He became a national hero during the Mexican War (1846-1848), and this fame swept him into the presidency. He had served only sixteen months (March 1849-July 1850) when he died from gastrointestinal illness. Vice President Millard Fillmore succeeded him.
The 12-cent stamp was widely used. Rates which could be paid with a single 12-cent stamp included the following: special delivery for a local letter (in effect March 26, 1944, through October 31, 1944); four times the domestic first-class rate (in effect July 1, 1932, through July 31, 1958); two times the 6-cent domestic airmail rate (in effect July 1, 1934, through March 25, 1944, and January 1949 through July 31, 1958); and two times the 6-cent WW II military airmail rate. Half-ounce letters prepaid with this 12-cent postage could be sent by air to El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, with rates in effect December 1, 1937, through March 31, 1946.