|1850-1853||Whig||January 7, 1800, in Cayuga County, New York||March 8, 1874, in Buffalo, New York|
|Vice President||First Lady||Previous Occupations||States in Union|
|None. Fillmore assumed the presidency upon President Taylor’s death, and the Constitution did not allow for the succession of the vice president until Congress passed the 25th Amendment in 1967.||Abigail Powers Fillmore (Wife)||Woolcarder, Lawyer||31|
Fillmore’s parents were Nathaniel and Phebe Millard Fillmore. Fillmore married Abigail Powers in 1826. They had two children: Millard Powers and Mary Abigail.
The issue of slavery continued to dominate national politics during Fillmore’s presidency. In an effort to appease both sides of the issue, he supported the Compromise of 1850 (whose laws Taylor had rejected), which ultimately allowed California to join the Union as a free state, while New Mexico and Utah were allowed to decide on the issue for themselves. The Compromise also abolished the slave trade in the District of Columbia and enforced the return of runaway slaves to their original owners. This latter law was called the Fugitive Slave Act.
Northern members of the Whig Party were angered that Fillmore signed the Fugitive Slave Act and helped to ensure he was not re-nominated for a second term. Fillmore did run for president again in 1856 as a member of the American Party, but was not able to gain widespread support and lost.
In his first annual message as president, Fillmore stated, “The Constitution has made it the duty of the President to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” (December 2, 1850)
“An honorable defeat is better than a dishonorable victory. ”
In the years following his presidency, Fillmore commented on the tragedy of the Civil War, “Three years of civil war have desolated the fairest portion of our land; loaded the country with an enormous debt that the sweat of millions yet unborn must be taxed to pay; arrayed brother against brother, father against son in mortal combat; deluged our country with fraternal blood; whitened our battlefields with the bones of the slain; and darkened the sky with the pall of mourning.”
At This Time
1851: Herman Melville publishes Moby-Dick • Isaac Singer invents the continuous stitch sewing machine • Maine and Illinois begin to enforce prohibition against alcohol • 1852: Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Did You Know?
Two years after his presidency, Fillmore visited England. While there, Oxford University offered him an honorary degree, but he declined the honor: “I have not the advantage of a classical education, and no man should, in my judgment, accept a degree he cannot read.” Further noting that Oxford’s students might ridicule such an honor, Fillmore explained, “They would probably ask who’s Fillmore? What’s he done? Where did he come from? And then my name would, I fear, give them an excellent opportunity to make jokes at my expense.”
In-depth essays created by the University of Virginia on Fillmore’s life and administration.
Field Trips for Millard Fillmore
Millard Fillmore House
East Aurora, New York
The first home of Millard Fillmore and his first wife was rescued from disrepair, relocated, and renovated by the artist Market Evans Price. Restored to its 1826 appearance, many of the Fillmore’s furnishings were found and returned to the house.
Millard Fillmore Log Cabin at Fillmore Glen State Park
Moravia, New York
Located in a state park with hiking trails and other activities is a replica of the birthplace of Millard Fillmore.