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In 1828, Fillmore was elected to the [[New York State Assembly]] on the [[Anti-Masonic Party|Anti-Masonic]] ticket, serving for one term, from 1829 to 1831. He was later elected as a [[Whig Party (United States)|Whig]] (having followed his mentor [[Thurlow Weed]] into the party) to the [[Twenty-third United States Congress|23rd Congress]] in 1832, serving from 1833 to 1835. He was re-elected in 1836 to the [[Twenty-fifth United States Congress|25th Congress]], to the [[Twenty-sixth United States Congress|26th]] and to the [[Twenty-seventh United States Congress|27th Congresses]] serving from 1837 to 1843, declining to be a candidate for re-nomination in 1842.
In 1828, Fillmore was elected to the [[New York State Assembly]] on the [[Anti-Masonic Party|Anti-Masonic]] ticket, serving for one term, from 1829 to 1831. He was later elected as a [[Whig Party (United States)|Whig]] (having followed his mentor [[Thurlow Weed]] into the party) to the [[Twenty-third United States Congress|23rd Congress]] in 1832, serving from 1833 to 1835. He was re-elected in 1836 to the [[Twenty-fifth United States Congress|25th Congress]], to the [[Twenty-sixth United States Congress|26th]] and to the [[Twenty-seventh United States Congress|27th Congresses]] serving from 1837 to 1843, declining to be a candidate for re-nomination in 1842.
brittany and heath forever<33333
In Congress, he opposed the entrance of [[Texas]] as a [[Slave state|slave territory]]. He came in second place in the bid for [[Speaker of the United States House of Representatives|Speaker of the House of Representatives]] in 1841. He served as chairman of the [[United States House Committee on Ways and Means|House Ways and Means Committee]] from 1841 to 1843 and was an author of the [[Tariff of 1842]], as well as two other bills that [[President of the United States|President]] [[John Tyler]] voted.
In Congress, he opposed the entrance of [[Texas]] as a [[Slave state|slave territory]]. He came in second place in the bid for [[Speaker of the United States House of Representatives|Speaker of the House of Representatives]] in 1841. He served as chairman of the [[United States House Committee on Ways and Means|House Ways and Means Committee]] from 1841 to 1843 and was an author of the [[Tariff of 1842]], as well as two other bills that [[President of the United States|President]] [[John Tyler]] voted.

Revision as of 14:10, 24 February 2009

Millard Fillmore
Millard Fillmore.jpg
President Millard Fillmore, taken around 1850 by Mathew Brady
13th President of the United States
In office
July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853
Vice President none
Preceded by Zachary Taylor
Succeeded by Franklin Pierce
12th Vice President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1849 – July 9, 1850
President Zachary Taylor
Preceded by George M. Dallas
Succeeded by William R. King
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York's 32nd district
In office
March 4, 1833 – March 3, 1835
Preceded by new district
Succeeded by Thomas C. Love
In office
March 4, 1837 – March 3, 1843
Preceded by Thomas C. Love
Succeeded by William A. Moseley
Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means
In office
Preceded by John W. Jones
Succeeded by James I. McKay
14th New York State Comptroller
In office
January 1, 1848 – February 20, 1849
Governor John Young
Hamilton Fish
Preceded by Azariah C. Flagg
Succeeded by Washington Hunt
Personal details
Born (1800-01-07)January 7, 1800
Summerhill, New York
Died March 8, 1874(1874-03-08) (aged 74)
Buffalo, New York
Nationality American
Political party Anti-Masonic, Whig, American
Spouse(s) Abigail Powers Fillmore (1st wife)
Caroline Carmichael McIntosh Fillmore (2nd wife)
Children Millard Powers Fillmore
Mary Abigail Fillmore
Alma mater New Hope Academy
Occupation Lawyer
Military service
Service/branch New York Militia
Battles/wars Mexican-American War
American Civil War

Millard Fillmore (January 7, 1800 – March 8, 1874) was the 13th President of the United States, serving from 1850 until 1853, and the last member of the Whig Party to hold that office. He was the second Vice President to assume the Presidency upon the death of a sitting President, succeeding Zachary Taylor who died of what is thought to be acute gastroenteritis . Fillmore was never elected President; after serving out Taylor's term, he failed to gain the nomination for the Presidency of the Whigs in the 1852 presidential election, and, four years later, in the 1856 presidential election, he again failed to win election as the Know Nothing Party and Whig candidate.

Early life and career

Fillmore was born in a log cabin in Cayuga County in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, to Nathaniel Fillmore and Phoebe Millard, as the second of nine children and the eldest son.[1] (As this was three weeks after George Washington's death, Fillmore was the first U.S. President born after the death of a former president.) Though a Unitarian in later life,[2] Fillmore was descended from Scottish Presbyterians on his father's side and English dissenters on his mother's. His father apprenticed him to a brutal cloth maker in Sparta, New York, at age fourteen to learn the cloth-making trade. He left after four months but subsequently took another apprenticeship in the same trade at New Hope, New York. He struggled to obtain an education under frontier conditions, attending New Hope Academy for six months in 1819. Later that same year, he began to clerk for Judge Walter Wood of Montville, New York, under whom Fillmore began to study law.

Millard Fillmore helped build this house in East Aurora, New York, and lived here 1826-30.

He fell in love with Abigail Powers, whom he met while at New Hope Academy and later married on February 5, 1826 [3]. The couple had two children, Millard Powers Fillmore and Mary Abigail Fillmore. After leaving Wood and buying out his apprenticeship, Fillmore moved to Buffalo, New York, where he continued his studies in the law office of Asa Rice and Joseph Clary. He was admitted to the bar in 1823 and began his law practice in East Aurora. In 1834, he formed a law partnership, Fillmore and Hall (becoming Fillmore, Hall and Haven in 1836), with his good friend Nathan K. Hall (who would later serve in his cabinet as Postmaster General).[4] It would become one of western New York's most prestigious firms.[5]

In 1846, he founded the private University of Buffalo, which today is the public State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY Buffalo), the largest school in the New York state university system.

His military service was limited. He served in the New York militia during the Mexican War of 1846 and during the American Civil War.


In 1828, Fillmore was elected to the New York State Assembly on the Anti-Masonic ticket, serving for one term, from 1829 to 1831. He was later elected as a Whig (having followed his mentor Thurlow Weed into the party) to the 23rd Congress in 1832, serving from 1833 to 1835. He was re-elected in 1836 to the 25th Congress, to the 26th and to the 27th Congresses serving from 1837 to 1843, declining to be a candidate for re-nomination in 1842.

HEATH IS HOTTER THAN MILLARD FILLMORE. brittany and heath forever<33333

In Congress, he opposed the entrance of Texas as a slave territory. He came in second place in the bid for Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1841. He served as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee from 1841 to 1843 and was an author of the Tariff of 1842, as well as two other bills that President John Tyler voted.

After leaving Congress, Fillmore was the unsuccessful Whig candidate for Governor of New York in 1844. He was the first New York State Comptroller elected by general ballot, and was in office from 1848 to 1849. As state comptroller, he revised New York's banking system, making it a model for the future National Banking System.

Engraving of Millard Fillmore

Vice Presidency 1849–1850

At the Whig national convention in 1848, the nomination of Gen. Zachary Taylor for president angered both the supporters of Henry Clay and the opponents of the extension of slavery into the territories gained in the Mexican–American War. A group of practical Whig politicians nominated Fillmore for vice president, believing that he would heal party wounds because he came from a non-slave state even though he was relatively obscure, and because he would help the ticket carry the populous state of New York.

Fillmore was also selected in part to block New York state machine boss Thurlow Weed from receiving the vice presidential nomination (and his front man William H. Seward from receiving a position in Taylor's cabinet). Weed ultimately got Seward elected to the senate. This competition between Seward and Fillmore led to Seward's becoming a more vocal part of cabinet meetings and having more of a voice than Fillmore in advising the administration. The battle would continue even after Taylor's death.

File:Fillmore campaign.jpg
Taylor/Fillmore campaign poster

Taylor and Fillmore disagreed on the slavery issue in the new western territories taken from Mexico in the Mexican-American War. Taylor wanted the new states to be free states, while Fillmore supported slavery in those states as a means of appeasing the South. In his own words: "God knows that I detest slavery, but it is an existing evil... and we must endure it and give it such protection as is guaranteed by the Constitution."

Fillmore presided over the Senate during the months of nerve-wracking debates over the Compromise of 1850. During one debate, Senator Henry S. Foote of Mississippi pulled a pistol on Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri. Fillmore made no public comment on the merits of the compromise proposals, but a few days before President Taylor's death, Fillmore suggested to the president that, should there be a tie vote on Henry Clay's bill, he would vote in favor of the North.

Presidency 1850–1853


Official White House portrait of Millard Fillmore

Upon the unexpected death of President Taylor on July 9, 1850, Fillmore ascended to the presidency. The change in leadership also signaled an abrupt political shift as Fillmore appointed his own cabinet. Taylor, himself, had been about to replace his entire scandal-ridden cabinet at the time of his death,[6] but now, beginning with the appointment of Daniel Webster as Secretary of State, Fillmore's cabinet would be dominated by individuals who, with the exception of Treasury Secretary Thomas Corwin, favored what would come to be called the Compromise of 1850.

As president, Fillmore dealt with increasing party divisions within the Whig party; party harmony became one of his primary objectives. He tried to unite the party by pointing out the differences between the Whigs and the Democrats (by proposing tariff reforms that negatively reflected on the Democratic Party). Another primary objective of Fillmore was to preserve the Union from the intensifying slavery debate.

Henry Clay's proposed bill to admit California to the Union still aroused all the violent arguments for and against the extension of slavery without any progress toward settling the major issues (the South continued to threaten secession). Fillmore recognized that Clay's plan was the best way to end the sectional crisis (California free state, harsher fugitive slave law, abolish slave trade in DC). Clay, exhausted, left Washington to recuperate, passing leadership to Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois. At this critical juncture, President Fillmore announced his support of the Compromise of 1850.

On August 6, 1850, he sent a message to Congress recommending that Texas be paid to abandon its claims to part of New Mexico. This, combined with his mobilization of 750 Federal troops to New Mexico, helped shift a critical number of northern Whigs in Congress away from their insistence upon the Wilmot Proviso—the stipulation that all land gained by the Mexican War must be closed to slavery.

Douglas's effective strategy in Congress combined with Fillmore's pressure gave impetus to the Compromise movement. Breaking up Clay's single legislative package, Douglas presented five separate bills to the Senate:

  • Admit California as a free state.
  • Settle the Texas boundary and compensate the state for lost lands.
  • Grant territorial status to New Mexico.
  • Place federal officers at the disposal of slaveholders seeking escapees—the Fugitive Slave Act.
  • Abolish the slave trade, but not slavery, in the District of Columbia.
Portrait of Millard Fillmore

Each measure obtained a majority, and, by September 20, President Fillmore had signed them into law. Webster wrote, "I can now sleep of nights." Whigs on both sides refused to accept the finality of Fillmore's law (which led to more party division, and a loss of numerous elections), which forced Northern Whigs to say "God Save us from Whig Vice Presidents."

Fillmore's greatest difficulty with the fugitive slave law was how to enforce it without seeming to show favor towards Southern Whigs. His solution was to appease both northern and southern Whigs by calling for the enforcement of the fugitive slave law in the North, and enforcing in the South a law forbidding involvement in Cuba (for the sole purpose of adding it as a slave state).

Another issue that presented itself during Fillmore's presidency was the arrival of Lajos Kossuth (exiled leader of a failed Hungarian revolution). Kossuth wanted the United States to abandon its non-intervention policies when it came to European affairs and recognize Hungary's independence. The problem came with the enormous support Kossuth received from German-American immigrants to the United States (who were essential in the re-election of both Whigs and Democrats). Fillmore refused to change American policy, and decided to remain neutral despite the political implications that neutrality would produce.

Fillmore appointed Brigham Young as the first governor of the Utah Territory in 1850.[7] Utah now contains a city and county named after Millard Fillmore.

Another important legacy of Fillmore's administration was the sending of Commodore Matthew C. Perry to open Japan to Western trade, though Perry did not reach Japan until Franklin Pierce had replaced Fillmore as president. A less dramatic legacy is that Fillmore, a bookworm, found the White House devoid of books and initiated the White House library.

Administration and cabinet

Statue of Fillmore outside City Hall in downtown Buffalo, New York
The Fillmore Cabinet
Office Name Term
President Millard Fillmore 1850–1853
Vice President None 1850–1853
Secretary of State Daniel Webster 1850–1852
Edward Everett 1852–1853
Secretary of Treasury Thomas Corwin 1850–1853
Secretary of War Charles M. Conrad 1850–1853
Attorney General John J. Crittenden 1850–1853
Postmaster General Nathan K. Hall 1850–1852
Samuel D. Hubbard 1852–1853
Secretary of the Navy William A. Graham 1850–1852
John P. Kennedy 1852–1853
Secretary of the Interior Thomas M. T. McKennan 1850
Alexander H. H. Stuart 1850–1853

Judicial appointments

Supreme Court

Fillmore appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States:

Other courts

Fillmore was able to appoint only four other federal judges, all to United States district courts:

Judge Court Began active
Ended active
John Glenn D.Md. March 19, 1852 July 8, 1853
Nathan Kelsey Hall N.D.N.Y. August 31, 1852 March 2, 1874
Ogden Hoffman, Jr. N.D.Cal. February 27, 1851 August 9, 1891[8]
James McHall Jones S.D.Cal. December 26, 1850 December 15, 1851

States admitted to the Union

Later life

Millard Fillmore
Know-Nothing/Whig nominee for
President of the United States
Election date
November 4, 1856
Running mate Andrew Jackson Donelson
Opponent(s) James Buchanan (D)
John C. Fremont (R)
Incumbent Franklin Pierce
Personal details
Political party Know-Nothing/Whig
Fillmore/Donelson campaign poster

Fillmore was one of the founders of the University of Buffalo. The school was chartered by an act of the New York State Legislature on May 11, 1846, and at first was only a medical school.[9] Fillmore was the first Chancellor, a position he maintained while both Vice President and President. Upon completing his presidency, Fillmore returned to Buffalo, where he continued to serve as chancellor.

After the death of his daughter Mary, Fillmore went abroad. While touring Europe in 1855, Fillmore was offered an honorary Doctor of Civil Law (D.C.L.) degree by the University of Oxford. Fillmore turned down the honor, explaining that he had neither the "literary nor scientific attainment" to justify the degree.[10] He is also quoted as having explained that he "lacked the benefit of a classical education" and could not, therefore, understand the Latin text of the diploma, adding that he believed "no man should accept a degree he cannot read."[3]

By 1856, Fillmore's Whig Party had ceased to exist, having fallen apart due to dissension over the slavery issue, and especially the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. Fillmore refused to join the new Republican Party, where many former Whigs, including Abraham Lincoln, had found refuge. Instead, Fillmore joined the anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic American Party, the political organ of the Know-Nothing movement.

He ran in the election of 1856 as the party's presidential candidate, attempting to win a non-consecutive second term as President (a feat accomplished only once in American politics, by Grover Cleveland). His running mate was Andrew Jackson Donelson, nephew of former president Andrew Jackson. Fillmore and Donelson finished third, carrying only the state of Maryland and its eight electoral votes; but he won 21.6% of the popular vote, one of the best showings ever by a Presidential third-party candidate.

On February 10, 1858, after the death of his first wife, Fillmore married Caroline McIntosh, a wealthy widow. Their combined wealth allowed them to purchase a big house in Buffalo, New York. The house became the center of hospitality for visitors, until her health began to decline in the 1860s.

Fillmore helped found the Buffalo Historical Society (now the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society) in 1862 and served as its first president.

Throughout the Civil War, Fillmore opposed President Lincoln and during Reconstruction supported President Johnson. He commanded the Union Continentals, a corps of home guards of males over the age of 45 from the Upstate New York area.

He died at 11:10 p.m. on March 8, 1874, of the after-effects of a stroke. His last words were alleged to be, upon being fed some soup, "the nourishment is palatable." On January 7 each year, a ceremony is held at his grave site in the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo.


A pink obelisk marks Fillmore's grave at Buffalo's Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Some northern Whigs remained irreconcilable, refusing to forgive Fillmore for having signed the Fugitive Slave Act. They helped deprive him of the Presidential nomination in 1852. Within a few years it was apparent that although the Compromise had been intended to settle the slavery controversy, it served rather as an uneasy sectional truce. Robert J. Rayback argues that the appearance of a truce, at first, seemed very real as the country entered a period of prosperity that included the South.[11] Although Fillmore, in retirement, continued to feel that conciliation with the South was necessary and considered that the Republican Party was at least partly responsible for the subsequent disunion, he was an outspoken critic of secession and was also critical of President Buchanan for not immediately taking military action when South Carolina seceded.[12]

Benson Lee Grayson suggests that the skillful avoidance of potential problems by the Fillmore administration is too often overlooked. Fillmore's constant attention to Mexico avoided a resumption of the hostilities that had only broken off in 1848 and laid the groundwork for the Gadsen Treaty during Pierce's administration.[13] Meanwhile, the Fillmore administration ironed out a serious dispute with Portugal left over from the Taylor administration[14], smoothed over a disagreement with Peru, and then peacefully resolved other disputes with England, France, and Spain over Cuba. At the height of this crisis, the Royal Navy had fired on an American ship while at the same time 160 Americans were being held captive in Spain. Fillmore and his State Department were able to resolve these crises without the United States going to war or losing face.[15]

Because the Whig party was so deeply divided, and the two leading national figures in the Whig party (Fillmore and his own Secretary of State, Daniel Webster) refused to combine to secure the nomination, Winfield Scott received it. Because both the north and the south refused to unite behind Scott, he won only 4 of 31 states, and lost the election to Franklin Pierce.

After Fillmore's defeat the Whig party continued its downward spiral with further party division coming at the hands of the Kansas Nebraska Act, and the emergence of the Know Nothing party.

Most of his correspondence was destroyed in pursuance of a direction in his son's will.[16]

Places named after Fillmore


Millard Fillmore postage stamp

Electoral history

United States presidential election, 1848

United States presidential election, 1856

Plaques to Fillmore

See also


  1. ^ "Millard Fillmore". 
  2. ^ Deacon, F. Jay (1999). "Transcendentalists, Abolitionism, and the Unitarian Association". UUA Collegium Lectures. Chicago. Retrieved 2006-12-28. 
  3. ^ a b Facts on Millard Filmore
  4. ^ Fillmore, Millard (1907). Millard Fillmore Papers. Buffalo Historical Society.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  5. ^ Paletta, Lu Ann (1988). The World Almanac of Presidential Facts. World Almanac Books. ISBN 0345348885.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  6. ^ Grayson 1981, p. 5.
  7. ^ "The American Franchise". American President, An Online Reference Resource. Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia. Retrieved 2008-03-13. 
  8. ^ Technically, Hoffman was reassigned several times, beginning on January 18, 1854, as the California federal courts were redistricted. Hoffman, Ogden Jr., Federal Judicial Center.
  9. ^ University of Buffalo bio
  10. ^ Millard Fillmore bio from the Internet Public Library
  11. ^ Rayback 1959, pp. 286-292
  12. ^ Rayback 1959, pp. 420-422
  13. ^ Grayson 1981, p. 120
  14. ^ Grayson 1981, p. 83
  15. ^ Grayson 1981, pp. 103-109
  16. ^ Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "article name needed". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  17. ^ Lewis, Gregory (February 8, 1997). ""Fillmore Street name change urged"". Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  18. ^ Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub
  19. ^ H. L. Mencken: "A Neglected Anniversary"
  20. ^ White House Plumbing
  21. ^ Plumbing History in The White House
  22. ^ The book Presidents and Prophets: The Story of America's Presidents and the LDS Church (Covenant, 2007)


  • Holt, Michael F. "Millard Fillmore". The American Presidency. Ed.Alan Brinkley,Davis Dyer.2004. p.145-151.
  • Deusen, Van Glydon. "The American Presidency" Encyclopedia Americana. Accessed 9 May 2007.* Rayback, Robert J. Millard Fillmore: Biography of a President. Buffalo, New York: Buffalo Historical Society, 1959
  • Grayson, Benson Lee. The Unknown President: The Administration of Millard Fillmore. University Press of America, 1981

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
New district Member from New York's
32nd congressional district

March 4, 1833 – March 3, 1835
Succeeded by
Thomas C. Love
Preceded by
Thomas C. Love
Member from New York's
32nd congressional district

March 4, 1837 – March 3, 1843
Succeeded by
William A. Moseley
Political offices
Preceded by
John W. Jones
Chairman of the United States House
Ways and Means Committee

1841 – 1843
Succeeded by
James I. McKay
Preceded by
Azariah C. Flagg
New York State Comptroller
1848 - 1849
Succeeded by
Washington Hunt
Preceded by
George M. Dallas
Vice President of the United States
March 4, 1849¹ – July 9, 1850²
Title next held by
William R. King
Preceded by
Zachary Taylor
President of the United States
July 9, 1850³ – March 4, 1853
Succeeded by
Franklin Pierce
Party political offices
Preceded by
Theodore Frelinghuysen
Whig Party vice presidential candidate
Succeeded by
William A. Graham
Preceded by
Winfield Scott
Whig Party presidential candidate
Succeeded by
John Bell
New political party American Party presidential candidate
Party disbanded
Honorary titles
Preceded by
James Buchanan
Oldest U.S. President still living
June 1, 1868 – March 8, 1874
Succeeded by
Andrew Johnson
Notes and references
1. Although Fillmore's term started on March 4, he did not take the oath of office until March 5.
2. President Zachary Taylor died on July 9.
3. Fillmore took the oath of office on July 10.

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|| UNKNOWN | MISSING = Year of birth missing {{subst:#switch:{{subst:uc:1874}}||LIVING=(living people)}}
| #default = 1800 births

}}]] [[Category:{{subst:#switch:{{subst:uc:1874}}

|| LIVING  = Living people
| UNKNOWN | MISSING  = Year of death missing
| #default = 1874 deaths