10 Things to Know About Millard Fillmore

Facts About the Thirteenth President

Millard Fillmore (1800-1874) served as the thirteenth president of the United States having taken over after the untimely death of Zachary Taylor. He supported the Compromise of 1850 including the controversial Fugitive Slave Act. He was not successful in his bid for the presidency in 1856. Following are ten key and interesting facts about him and his time as president.

01
of 10

Had a Rudimentary Education

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 parents provided him with a basic education before they apprenticed him to a cloth maker at a young age. Through his own determination, he continued to educate himself and eventually enrolled himself in New Hope Academy at the age of nineteen.

02
of 10

Taught School While He Studied Law

Between the years of 1819 and 1823, Fillmore taught school as a way to support himself as he studied law. He was admitted to the New York bar in 1823.

03
of 10

Married His Teacher

Abigail Powers Filmore, wife of President Willard Fillmore.
Abigail Powers Filmore, wife of President Willard Fillmore. Bettmann / Getty Images

While at New Hope Academy, Fillmore found a kindred spirit in Abigail Powers. Even though she was his teacher, she was only two years older than him. They both loved learning. However, they did not get married until three years after Fillmore joined the bar. They later had two children: Millard Powers and Mary Abigail.

04
of 10

Entered Politics Soon After Passing the Bar

Six years after passing the New York bar, Fillmore was elected to the New York State Assembly. He was soon elected to Congress and served as a representative for New York for ten years. In 1848, he was given the position of comptroller of New York. He served in this capacity until he was nominated as the vice presidential candidate under Zachary Taylor.

05
of 10

Was Never Elected President

Zachary Taylor, Twelfth President of the United States
Zachary Taylor, Twelfth President of the United States, Portrait by Mathew Brady. Credit Line: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-13012 DLC
President Taylor died a little over a year after being in office and Fillmore succeeded to the role of president. His support over the next year of the Compromise of 1850 meant that he was not renominated to run in 1852.
06
of 10

Supported the Compromise of 1850

Henry Clay, Creator of the Missouri Compromise
Painting of Henry Clay. Public Domain. Source: Northern Illinois Library Lincoln Digitization Project.

Fillmore thought that the Compromise of 1850 introduced by Henry Clay was a key piece of legislation that would preserve the union from sectional differences. However, this did not follow the policies of the deceased President Taylor. Taylor's cabinet members resigned in protest and Fillmore was then able to fill his cabinet with more moderate members.

07
of 10

Proponent of the Fugitive Slave Act

The most odious part of the Compromise of 1850 for many anti-slavery proponents as the Fugitive Slave Act. This required the government to help return fugitive slaves to their owners. Fillmore supported the Act even though he was personally opposed to slavery. This caused him much criticism and probably the 1852 nomination.

08
of 10

Treaty of Kanagawa Passed While in Office

Commodore Mathew Perry
Commodore Mathew Perry. Public Domain

In 1854, the US and Japan agreed to the Treaty of Kanagawa that had been created through the efforts of Commodore Matthew Perry. This opened two Japanese ports to trade while agreeing to help American vessels which were wrecked off the coast of Japan. The treaty also allowed the ships to purchase provisions in Japan.

09
of 10

Unsuccesfully Ran as Part of the Know-Nothing Party in 1856

James Buchanan - Fifteenth President of the United States
James Buchanan - Fifteenth President of the United States. Hulton Archive / Stringer / Getty Images

The Know-Nothing Party was an anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic party. They nominated Fillmore to run for president in 1856. In the election, Fillmore only won the electoral votes from the state of Maryland. He garnered 22 percent of the popular vote and was defeated by James Buchanan.

10
of 10

Retired From National Politics After 1856

Abraham Lincoln, Sixteenth President of the United States
Abraham Lincoln, Sixteenth President of the United States. Credit Line: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USP6-2415-A DLC

After 1856, Fillmore did not return to the national stage. Instead, he spent the rest of his life in public affairs in Buffalo, New York. He was active in community projects such as the building of the city's first high school and a hospital. He supported the Union but was still looked down upon for his support of the Fugitive Slave Act when President Lincoln was assassinated in 1865.

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Kelly, Martin. "10 Things to Know About Millard Fillmore." ThoughtCo, Nov. 13, 2016, thoughtco.com/things-to-know-about-millard-fillmore-104817. Kelly, Martin. (2016, November 13). 10 Things to Know About Millard Fillmore. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/things-to-know-about-millard-fillmore-104817 Kelly, Martin. "10 Things to Know About Millard Fillmore." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/things-to-know-about-millard-fillmore-104817 (accessed January 19, 2018).