Category: US President
Millard Fillmore (1850-1853) became president on the death of Zachary Taylor, who died barely a year into his first term. Millard Fillmore was the 13th president of the United States.
About the President
Millard Fillmore grew up on the the frontier of New York’s lake country. Millard Fillmore became an attorney, moved to Buffalo, New York and became a member of the House of Representatives. Millard Fillmore was chosen to be the Comptroller of New York. He was elected Vice President in 1848. Millard Fillmore became President in 1850, in the middle of contentious political debates that threatened to rip the country apart.
Major Policies and Actions
As Vice President, Millard Fillmore was in the Senate while the Compromise of 1850 was debated. He had decided that he would vote in favor of it if a tie-breaking vote was necessary, a role the VP has in the Senate. When Millard Fillmore was elected to the Presidency, Fillmore indicated that he supported the Compromise of 1850. He saw that legislation passed; at the time, it was thought that this compromise would save the nation. In fact, it simply delayed the inevitable conflict.
Millard Fillmore supported the expeditions of the U.S. Navy to open trade with Japan.
Historical Events during His Presidency
The Compromise of 1850 was an attempt to avoid secession by the southern, slave-owning slaves. While Taylor had no experience in politics and little inclination, secession was unlikely while he was in power because he was both a slave owner and devout nationalist, plus a war hero. Taylor supported slavery remaining legal where it was but did not push for its expansion into new territories like California, New Mexico, and Oregon. Taylor encouraged California, New Mexico, and Utah territories to organize state constitutions so they could be admitted as free states so that Congress did not have to decide whether to admit them as slave states or free states. With his death, Congress had to compromise. A bare majority of the least extreme on each side passed all five provisions of the 1850 Compromise. President Millard Fillmore signed the Compromise of 1850 on September 20, 1850.
Millard Fillmore signed the Fugitive Slave Act in an effort to maintain the union. The northern Whigs who wanted slavery to end then worked to prevent him from being given the Presidential nomination in 1852. This is why Millard Fillmore served only one term, and why he was not able to run a second time on the Whig party.
The Whig Party fell apart in the 1850s, due to its inability to continue the compromises. President Millard Fillmore would not join the Republican Party. Instead, he joined the American Party, also known as the “Know Nothing” party. In that era, Democrats were the pro-slavery party, while Whigs and later Republicans were the party opposed to slavery.
Millard Fillmore ran for the Presidency again in 1856 for the American Party. In the 1856 election, James Buchanan won with 174 electoral votes, Freemont won 114 electoral votes, and Fillmore won a disappointing 8 electoral votes in that election.
Millard Fillmore (1850-1853) was the last president to be a member of the Whig party. He was the last president to be neither a Republican nor a Democrat.
Millard Fillmore opposed the secession of the South, but he also opposed many of President Lincoln’s actions like the suspending the write of Habeas Corpus (the ability to challenge detainment as lawful), the arrest of dissenters and censorship of the press.
Millard Fillmore was the only Whig President who was not kicked out of the party or died in office.
After his presidency, Millard Fillmore became the Chancellor of the University of Buffalo. He was offered an honorary degree by Oxford but refused it because he felt he had not earned it.