Salute to President Millard Fillmore (1850-1853)

Posted by in Commemoration/Celebration | February 20, 2017

Salute to President Millard Fillmore (1850-1853)

 Happy Presidents’ Day (2017)

Millard Fillmore, the 13th President of these United States of America, was born on a farm January 7, 1800 in what is now the village of Morovia in the Finger Lakes Region of New York.  He was one of the log cabin to White House presidents.

Young Millard studied law and gained admittance to the bar in Buffalo at the age of 23.  He practiced law in East Aurora, New York.  He also taught there.  He was elected to the state legislature at the age of 28.  He served as a congressman from the ages of 32 to 42.

In 1848, he became the running mate for war hero General Zachary Taylor, Old Rough and Ready, to balance the ticket for the Whig Party.  General Taylor was a southerner, who owned slaves, and Congressman Fillmore was a northerner, who opposed slavery.  Vice President Fillmore became president on July 9, 1850 when President Taylor died suddenly from an unknown digestive ailment.

At the time of Fillmore’s presidency America was embroiled in a heated debate regarding slavery.  President Fillmore sought a middle ground to keep the nation together and was instrumental in the adoption of the Compromise of 1850.  Despite being against slavery, he also signed the Fugitive Slave Law which led to the demise of his political career.  The Compromise of 1850 and the Fugitive Slave Law postponed the War Between the States for only ten more years.

During his short term he sent Commodore Matthew C. Perry to Japan, on what is known as the Perry Expedition, to begin relations and open trade with Japan.  He also prevented France from annexing Hawaii with a strongly worded message to Napoleon III.

After finishing the remainder of the late President Taylor’s term, President Fillmore ran for president on the ticket for the Know Nothing Party in 1852 and 1856.  He was the last of the presidents from the Whig Party.

After his presidency, President Fillmore helped found the University of Buffalo.  When the War Between the States broke out, he denounced secession and supported the war effort.  He later supported the Reconstruction policies of President Andrew Johnson.

He also met with Pope Pius IX in Rome.  He almost cancelled the meeting with Pius IX when he was told that he would have to kneel and kiss the hand of the pope.  To avoid the issue, Pope Pius IX remained seated during the entire meeting.

President Fillmore retired to Buffalo where he continued to serve the people through various philanthropic and civic activities until he passed away on March 8, 1874.  While president he was married to Abigail Powers.  They had two children Millard and Mary.  He was broken hearted when she passed away the year he finished his term as president. He was remarried five years later to Caroline McIntosh.

In 1938 he was honored by the U.S. Post Office with a 13 cent stamp.

More may be learned about the President and Mrs. Fillmore and the events during their lives at the Millard Fillmore House in East Aurora, New York.

Quotes attributed to President Fillmore:

The law is the only sure protection of the weak, and the only efficient restraint upon the strong.

The man who can look upon a crisis without being willing to offer himself upon the altar of his country is not for public trust.

It is not strange… to mistake change for progress.