Millard Fillmore was the 13th person to become President of the United States. He assumed office after President Zachary Taylor died in 1850. He is mostly known for keeping peace between the North and the South through the Compromise of 1850.
Continue reading for 12 facts about Millard Fillmore.
Millard Fillmore facts
1. He was part of a very poor family
Millard Fillmore was born on January 7, 1800, in Locke Township, located in New York. His family lived in extreme poverty. When he was 15, his father trained him to become a cloth maker. He hoped that Millard would help make money for the family, but at the age of 17, he moved to New Hope, New York.
2. Fillmore taught himself how to read
He did not receive an education until he was 18. An interesting fact about Millard Fillmore is that he taught himself how to read and write. Soon after he left the homem he grew up in and moved to New Hope, he stole books when he could. He was obsessed with learning new things and obtaining and education. Finally, he managed to get schooling, although it was only for six months. His teacher, Abigail Powers, eventually became his wife.
3. Millard was responsible for signing a law that helped maintain peace between the North and South
One of the things Millard Fillmore is best known for is the Compromise of 1850. After signing several bills into law, the Compromise of 1850 was born. Some of the laws passed were embraced by the South, and others by the North. However, this only helped to maintain peace for a while.
The main bills were: California will be admitted as a free state and no slavery will be allowed. The state of Texas was paid for and the boundaries settled. The territory where New Mexico was located was given territorial status. If slaves escaped and went to another state, they would be returned to the person who owned them. This was called the Fugitive Slave Act. The District of Columbia abolished the slave trade but slavery was still allowed.
4. He became a lawyer at 23
After receiving some education, he got a job as a clerk for a judge. He saw this as an opportunity to learn the law. When he was 23 years old, he passed the bar exam and became a lawyer. He then opened his own law firm.
Fillmore’s law firm became very successful in New York. After being an established lawyer in 1828, he entered politics by winning a seat on the New York State Assembly. In 1833, he decided to run for the US Congress. He served in the House of Representatives for four terms.
5. Fillmore became President of the United States but was never elected
An interesting fact about Millard Fillmore is that he was one of five US Presidents that took office while not being elected as President. While he was vice-president of Zachary Taylor, he was not very popular among the President’s administration. However, on July 4, 1850, Taylor got sick and passed away a few days later. This instantly made Fillmore ascend to the presidency.
6. He protected the Hawaiian Islands from France
Millard Fillmore defended the Hawaiian Islands from being taken by Napoleon III in France. During that time, Hawaii was considered a location to resupply ships that crossed the Pacific Ocean. England and France, however, wanted to take Hawaii for themselves. Therefore, when the French tried to talk Hawaii’s king into signing an annexation to France, Fillmore did not allow it.
7. Millard Fillmore strongly opposed President Abraham Lincoln
Fillmore supported the Union cause during the Civil War but he did not believe in slave emancipation and having black people list enlist in the army. He, and the Republican Party, which was recently formed, opposed also Abraham Lincoln’s re-election bid in the year of 1864.
8. He helped found the University of New York
In 1846, he became one of the original founders of the University of Buffalo. There, Millard served as its first chancellor until he passed away in 1874. He stepped down briefly in 1856 since he had decided to return to politics. The Know Nothing Party, which was anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant, nominated him, an interesting fact about Millard Fillmore. However, he came in last in a presidential race that had three candidates. He only managed to win one state. After this event, he retired to Buffalo and resumed his activities with the university.
9. He was a President without a vice-president
When Fillmore assumed the presidency of the country, when the previous head of state passed away, the vice-president’s chair was left empty. However, the Constitution did not say what should be done when there is a vacancy in the vice-presidency. Therefore, the office remained vacant for the period Fillmore was President of the country.
10. Fillmore helped fight a fire at the Library of Congress
Even though Fillmore’s father allegedly only owned three books, a Bible, a book of hymns and an almanac, Millard loved to read. He and his wife founded the first White House library. In December 1851, the library caught fire and he helped put the flames out. Then, a bill was signed to replace all of the books that were destroyed.
11. Millard Fillmore was an Anti-Mason
Fillmore’s political start was in 1828 to the New York legislature. This was possible since he was strongly against Freemasonry. Until he was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1832, he remained affiliated with the Anti-Mason Party. He then changed to join the Whig Party who opposed President Andrew Jackson, a Democrat.
12. After being President of the US, he was not nominated for a second term
There were several reasons that made Fillmore an unpopular President. One of those was his refusal to back an invasion of Cuba to expand slavery. Another unpopular decision was the support of the Fugitive Slave Act. For these and other reasons, the Whig Party did not nominate him in 1852 for re-election.
Millard Fillmore is perhaps the most unpopular President of the United States. He is even considered to be “uninspiring” by many. Nonetheless, he was applauded for trying to keep peace between the North and South and for defending Hawaii against France.
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