Presidents: Millard Fillmore

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Millard Fillmore was the last president that was a member of the Whig Party. He became president upon the death of President Zachary Taylor.

Millard Fillmore

 Millard Fillmore was born on January 7, 1800 in Moravia, New York.  He was the second of eight children to Nathaniel and Phoebe Millard Fillmore.  His childhood has been described by historians as “one of hard work, frequent privation, and virtually no formal schooling”.

 In 1819, he took a break from working with his father at the mill to enroll in the new academy in town.  While there he met his teacher, Abigail Powers.

 Fillmore would teach and study the law for the next few years before being admitted to the bar in 1823. 

 On February 5, 1826 Millard Fillmore married Abigail Powers.  The couple would have two children together. 

 In 1829, he was elected to the New York State Assembly where he would serve for the next three years.

 In 1832,he was elected to the House of Representatives. During his time in Washington, he formed a close friendship with his mentor, Senator Daniel Webster.  Their friendship would last for the remainder of Webster’s life.

 During this time, Fillmore became a founding member of the Whig Party. In 1841, he became chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.  In 1842, he decided to not seek re-election and when the Whig’s nominated him he refused the nomination. According to his biographer, Scarry: “Fillmore concluded his Congressional career at a point when he had become a powerful figure, an able statesman at the height of his popularity”.

Millard Fillmore

 Fillmore returned to his law practice and making long-neglected repairs to his home. 

 On the urging of his colleagues, including former President John Quincy Adams, Fillmore returned to Washington.  In 1844, he ran for governor of New York but was defeated.

 In 1846, he was involved in the founding of University of Buffalo.  He would become their first chancellor, a position he held until his death.

 In late 1847, he was elected as the first comptroller of New York.  The following year he was elected as Vice President candidate to Zachary Taylor at the 1848 Whig National Convention.

 On March 5, 1849, Millard Fillmore was sworn in as Vice President.  During his term as Vice President, he presided over very contentious and passionate debates on the issue of slavery in the U.S. Senate.

 President Taylor died on July 9, 1840. He took the oath of presidency before a joint house of representatives.   He dealt with difficulties in Hawaii and Cuba during his presidency. 

 Nathaniel Fillmore became the first father of a president to visit his son at the White House.

Millard Fillmore

President Fillmore strived to reduce tensions between the north and south. His bills to keep both the North and South happy came to be known as The Compromise of 1850.

He and his wife set up the first White House library. In December 1851, he raced to the Library of Congress which was on fire to help save the books. The signed a bill to fund the replacement of all books that had been destroyed.

 He left the presidency on March 4, 1853. He returned to private life and his law practice. He was the first president that was not independently wealthy or in possession of a landed estate upon leaving the presidency. At this time presidents did not receive a pension upon leaving office.

Just three short weeks after leaving office, Abigail Fillmore, his beloved wife died on March 30, 1853. She’s caught pneumonia at President Pierce’s inauguration. His daughter, Mary, took over running the household but sadly she died on cholera on July 26, 1854.

In the 1856 presidential election he ran unsuccessfully on the Know Nothing Party ticket.

On February 10, 1858, Millard Fillmore married Caroline McIntosh. She was a wealthy widow and even had the former president sign a prenuptial  agreement.

Millard Fillmore

Millard Fillmore stayed in good health until he suffered a stroke in February 1874. He died from a second stroke on March 8, 1874. He was buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York.

Caroline Fillmore survived her husband by becoming more eccentric with the passage of time. She died on August 11, 1881. Although she did not serve as First Lady, she did receive the Presidential Widow’s Pension as the wife of a former president.





13th President of the United States
(July 9, 1850 to March 3, 1853)

Nickname: “The American Louis Philippe”

Born: January 7, 1800, in Locke Township (now Summerhill), New York
Died: March 8, 1874 in Buffalo, New York

Father: Nathaniel Fillmore
Mother: Phoebe Millard Fillmore
Stepmother: Eunice Love
Married: Abigail Powers (1798-1853), on February 5, 1826; Caroline Carmichael McIntosh (1813-1881), on February 10, 1858
Children: Millard Powers Fillmore (1828-89); Mary Abigail Fillmore (1832-54)

Religion: Unitarian
Education: No formal education
Occupation: Lawyer
Political Party: Whig

  • Member of New York State Assembly, 1828-31
  • Member of U.S. House of Representatives, 1833-35
  • Member of U.S. House of Representatives, 1837-45
  • Comptroller of New York, 1847
  • Vice President, 1849-1850 (under tiny U.S. flag Taylor)

Presidential Salary: $25,000/year


  • Congress passed the Compromise of 1850 and Fugitive Slave Act in September.

1800 Born on January 7, 1800 in a log cabin in Moravia, Cayuga County, New York State

1812 The War of 1812 which has also been called the second War for Independence, between the United States and Great Britain. Zachary Taylor served in the War of 1812, Black Hawk, Second Seminole, and Mexican wars

1814 Treaty of Fort Jackson ends Creek War

1826 Millard Fillmore was married to Abigail Powers Fillmoreon February 5, 1826

1828-31 Member of New York State Assembly, 1828-31

1830 Indian Removal Act
Oregon Trail opens

1831 Nat Turner’s revolt

1832 Black Hawk War
Seminole War begins
Department of Indian Affairs established

1833-35 Member of U.S. House of Representatives, 1833-35

1835 Texas War for Independence begins

1837-45 Member of U.S. House of Representatives, 1837-45

1837 Battle of the Alamo

1838 1838-1839: The Trail of Tears

1846 Mexican-American War begins.

1847 Comptroller of New York, 1847

1849 Vice President, 1849-1850 (under Zachary Taylor)

1849-50 The Clayton-Bulwer Treaty signed with Britain guaranteed that any future canal across Central America would be available to all nations

1850 Millard Fillmore became the thirteenth President of the United States of America
Established White House Library (1850-53)
Compromise of 1850 (1850)

1852 Commodore Perry’s Mission to Japan (1852-54)

1853 His term in office ended in 1853

1856 Sack of Lawrence, Kansas
Pottawatomie Massacre

1859 Oregon admission to the US
Harper’s Ferry Raid

1860 Pony Express begins

1861 The American Civil War, also called the War between the States, was waged from April 1861 until April 1865. The 4 year war was between the federal government of the United States and 11 Southern states that asserted their right to secede (withdraw) from the Union. Abraham Lincoln was the central figure of the American Civil War.

1863 Battle of Gettysburg

1864 Sand Creek Massacre

1865 Abraham Lincoln assassinated
United States Civil War ends

1866 Civil Rights Act of 1866
Ku Klux Klan founded

1867 Alaska Purchase from Russia

1874 Millard Fillmore died of a cerebral haemorrhage in Buffalo on March 8th, 1874 at the age of 74. His funeral was held at his mansion and a procession took him to Forest Lawn Cemetery




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