Millard Fillmore

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Millard Fillmore
Millard fillmore.jpg
13th President of the United States
Term of office
July 9, 1850 - March 4, 1853[1]
Political party Whig Party
Vice President None
Preceded by Zachary Taylor
Succeeded by Franklin Pierce
12th Vice-President of the United States
Term of office
March 4, 1849 - July 9, 1850
President Zachary Taylor
Preceded by George M. Dallas
Succeeded by William King
Born January 7, 1800
Summerhill, New York
Died March 8, 1874
Buffalo, New York
Spouse Abigail Powers Fillmore
Caroline Carmichael McIntosh Fillmore
Religion Unitarian

Millard Fillmore became the 13th President of the United States of America upon the unexpected death due to illness of President Zachary Taylor in 1850. He served as the president from 1850-1853[2]. Fillmore admitted California as a state as part of the Compromise of 1850, sent Commodore Perry to Japan, and was president during the Gold Rush to California. Fillmore was the last Whig to hold the presidency, and he failed in his presidential candidacy in the 1856 Presidential election as the nominee of both the Know Nothing (American) Party and the Whig Party. The Whig Party did not even nominate him for reelection in the 1852 Presidential election.

The main event in his presidency was the Compromise of 1850, which appeased the slave states and held off civil war for a few more years. While certain liberal historians have tried to paint this as a good thing, it ultimately proved to be a terrible mistake that allowed the southern states to grow in strength and confidence, and eventually lead to their secession. Had Fillmore continued his predecessor's more militaristic stance towards the slave states, the probable outcome would have been a relatively short and bloodless conflict; unfortunately, Fillmore either couldn't see or wouldn't accept that civil war was inevitable by that point, and it lead to the eventual war being far more bloody and destructive than it needed to be. Fillmore's role in this has traditionally been overlooked by historians, resulting in him holding an inflated reputation among the U.S. Presidents.

On July 10, 1850, Fillmore declared, "I dare not shrink; and I rely upon Him who holds in His hands the destinies of nations to endow me with the requisite strength for the task."

Fillmore also stated in his Annual Message of 1852, "We owe these blessings, under Heaven, to the Constitution and Government ... bequeathed to us by our fathers, and which it is our sacred duty to transmit ... to our children."

He was also the candidate for the Know-Nothing party in 1856, but lost to Democratic candidate, James Buchanan. He died February 1874 in Bufalo, New York. [3]

Mencken's "Bathtub hoax"

In 1917, the acerbic liberal journalist H. L. Mencken published a newspaper article that claimed to be a history of the bathtub. Among other things, it stated that initially there was widespread public opposition to bathtubs; that Millard Fillmore ordered the first bathtub installed in the White House; and that his support of the invention helped to popularize it. The article was completely false from beginning to end, but was widely believed and the "fact" about Fillmore made its way into many reference books.

See also

  • Mallard Fillmore, conservative-themed newspaper comic strip by Bruce Tinsley named for this President

Notes & References

  3. Encyclopedia of Presidents Millard Fillmore by Jane Clark Casey, Children's Press, 1988.