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Millard Fillmore - Thirteenth President of the United States

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Millard Fillmore, Thirteenth President of the United States

Millard Fillmore, Thirteenth President of the United States, Portrait by Mathew Brady

Credit Line: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-13013 DLC

Millard Fillmore's Childhood and Education:


Millard Fillmore grew up on a small farm in New York to a relatively poor family. He received a basic education. He was then apprenticed to cloth makers while at the same time educating himself until he enrolled at the New Hope Academy in 1819. Over time, Fillmore alternatively studied law and taught school until he was admitted to the bar in 1823.

Family Ties:


Father: Nathaniel Fillmore - Farmer.
Mother: Phoebe Millard Fillmore.
Siblings: Five brothers and three sisters.
Wife: (1)Abigail Powers - She was Fillmore's teacher though only one year older. She died in 1853. (2)In 1858, Fillmore married Caroline Carmichael McIntosh who was a wealthy widow.
Children: Millard Powers and Mary Abigail.

Millard Fillmore's Career Before the Presidency:


Fillmore became active in politics soon after being admitted to the bar. He served in the New York State Assembly from 1829-31. He was then elected to Congress in 1832 as a Whig and served until 1843. In 1848, he became the Comptroller of New York State. He was then elected Vice President under Zachary Taylor and took office in 1849. He succeeded to the presidency upon Taylor's death on July 9, 1850.

Post-Presidential Period:


Soon after Fillmore left the Presidency, his wife and daughter died. He took off on a trip to Europe. He ran for the presidency in 1856 for the Know-Nothing Party, an anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant party. He lost to James Buchanan. He no longer was active on the national scene but was still involved in public affairs in Buffalo, New York until his death on March 8, 1874.

Historical Significance:


Millard Fillmore was only in office for less than three years. However, his acceptance of the Compromise of 1850 averted the Civil War for another eleven years. His support of the Fugitive Slave Act caused the Whig Party to split in two and caused the downfall of his national political career.

Events and Accomplishments of Millard Fillmore's Presidency:


Fillmore's administration lasted from July 10, 1850 - March 3, 1853. The most significant event of his time in office was the Compromise of 1850. This consisted of five separate laws:
  1. California was admitted as a free state.
  2. Texas received compensation for giving up claims to western lands.
  3. Utah and New Mexico were established as territories.
  4. Fugitive Slave Act was passed which required the federal government to help return runaway slaves.
  5. The slave trade was abolished in the District of Columbia.
This temporarily staved off the Civil War for a time. The Presidents support of the Compromise of 1850 cost him his party's nomination in 1852.

Also during Fillmore's time in office, Commodore Matthew Perry created the Treaty of Kanagawa in 1854. This treaty with the Japanese allowed America to trade in two Japanese ports and was important for allowing trade with the far east.

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