Monday, February 1, 2010
Millard Fillmore (1800-1874) was born in Locke, New York, on January 7, 1800, the second child in a family of six boys and three girls. His father lost his farm through a bad title and then rented some land covered with woods. Millard helped his father clear the trees and farm the land. Fillmore's time in school was very short, but he learned reading, spelling, arithmetic, and geography. His father owned only two books; one was a Bible and the other was a hymnbook. Fillmore bought his first book, a dictionary, at age 19. He taught school while studying law with a local judge and opened a law office at age 23. He married, Abigail Powers, one of his former teachers, at age 26; she was two years older than he. She continued to teach school, and the couple had two children, a boy and a girl. The family moved to Buffalo, New York in 1830. Fillmore served several terms in the United States House of Representatives before being nominated for United States Vice President on a ticket with Zachary Taylor, hero of the Mexican War. They won the 1848 election with a margin of 36 electoral votes. Millard Fillmore was the second person serving as Vice President to become the President of the United States. He became the President when Zachary Taylor died. His most important action was his support for and approval of the Compromise of 1850. The signing of this series of laws helped to delay the Civil War for more than ten years. He did not personally approve of slavery, but he loved his country enough to prefer compromise to war. During his administration, the basic postal rate was reduced from 5 to 3 cents by Congress. Mrs. Fillmore was not healthy but did arrange for the first cook stove in the White House as well as the first library there. Fillmore and his cabinet helped to fight the fire that burned the Library of Congress in 1851. Fillmore was not nominated for President in 1852, and Franklin Pierce became President. Mrs. Fillmore died less than a month after they left the White House and was buried in Washington, D.C. Fillmore returned to Buffalo and resumed his law practice. He ran for president again in 1856 but was beaten by James Buchanan. Two years later in 1858 Fillmore married Mrs. Caroline Carmichael McIntosh, a widow. He opposed many of the policies of President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War but favored the Reconstruction program of President Andrew Johnson. Fillmore died on March 8, 1874, and was buried in Buffalo, New York. Facts for this post came from an article by Michael F. Holt, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 7, pp 100-103.