Millard Fillmore

Brief biography of Millard Fillmore

 Portrait of Millard Fillmore
After the unexpected death of President Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore took over the presidency and swore as the successor and 13th president of the United States of America. He was also dubbed as “His Accidency” since he was the second man to inherit the presidency after John Tyler.

On January 7, 1800, in a small log cabin in Cayuga County, in the Finger Lakes region of New York to Phoebe Millard and Nathaniel Fillmore. He was the second of eight children. Their family moved to Sempronius after the couple found out that their land’s title was defective.

Millard Fillmore endured extreme poverty during his formative years. His father’s diligence made bear him success in Sempronius. Nathaniel jumped from one job to another. He even convinced Millard, when he was only fourteen, not to enlist for the War of 1812; instead, he apprenticed him to Benjamin Hungerford, a cloth maker.

Millard Fillmore was unhappy with the stagnant workplace and routine he had. He sought to better himself through books in a circulating library and read as many books as possible. Millard Fillmore utilized his idle time at the mill to enroll in a new school in town. He met his future wife, Abigail Powers.

Millard Fillmore’s father decided to move their family to Montville in 1819. As he saw the potentials of Millard Fillmore, he trusted his wife’s advice to persuade Judge Walter Wood to hire Millard as his law clerk. Millard Fillmore tried to squeeze in his schedule by earning money as a teacher for three months and working as a mill apprentice. He then gave up his clerkship under Judge Wood after 18 months since the judge paid him almost nothing. His father then decided for them to move to Erie County, near Buffalo.

The farm Nathaniel purchased became prosperous. In 1821, Millard Fillmore reached adulthood at the age of 21. He worked as a school teacher in East Aurora and even accepted some peace court cases as it does not require a licensed attorney.

Millard Fillmore pursued his legal studies in Buffalo the following year while working as a school teacher. He had his apprenticeship under the law office of Asa Rice and Joseph Clary. He also became engaged to Abigail Powers during that time.

Millard Fillmore was admitted to the New York bar in 1823. He declined numerous law firm offers from Buffalo as he is not confident enough to practice. He married Abigail Powers on February 5, 1826.

A political opportunity opened up for him. Many were against the candidacy of Andrew Jackson, who is a mason. By that time, Millard Fillmore was a delegate to the New York convention, which endorsed President John Quincy Adams for re-election and played a part in 1828 in an anti-masonic conference. He then successfully won the New York State Assembly for three years. Millard Fillmore was a minority against the Jacksonian Democrats; however, Millard proved his effectivity by promoting the legislation’s jurisdiction to provide court witnesses an option to take a non-religious oath and abolish imprisonment for debt in 1830. He did not seek re-election in 1831.

Millard Fillmore was a successful and prominent lawyer too. Many court cases fell into him because, as Buffalo expands, it still recovers from British conflagration during the War of 1812. He also contributed to drafting the city charter. Aside from his legal career, he even helped found the Buffalo High School Association, joined the academy and part of the Unitarian Church. Millard Fillmore was an active New York militia and served as Major as inspector of the 47th Brigade.

In 1832, he successfully won a seat in the House of Representatives and served for four terms.

As he remained a significant political figure because of his contributions, he was out of the office; however, he continued to lead the committee of notable gentlemen and warmly welcomed John Quincy Adams in Buffalo.

Many urged him to run for vice presidency with Henry Clay as his running mate; although, he was coerced to run for a gubernatorial candidate.

To put a good face in his defeat, he publicly appeared with Frelinghuysen. As he strongly opposed slavery, it made him qualified to become the Whig’s candidate. There are many shortcomings as he tried to progress his political career. His arrival does not seem to be very friendly to many immigrants and even blamed his defeat on “foreign Catholics.”

Millard Fillmore kept himself busy as he involved himself in founding the University of Buffalo in 1846 and even served as its first chancellor.

Zachary Taylor was nominated by the Whigs to run for the presidency because of his popularity after the Mexican-American War; however, Millard Fillmore was not automatically picked to become his running mate. After he won against Abbott Lawrence, that is when he became Whig’s nominee for vice president.

He swore as the vice president on March 5, 1849. He succeeded as the next president after the death of Zachary Taylor. Millard Fillmore took the oath as president with the federal court’s chief judge for the District of Columbia, William Cranch. He was the last Whig president.

Millard Fillmore accepted the resignation of the cabinet members of those who marginalized him.

Slavery became a massive issue during his time as president. He approved the Compromise of 1850, which many believed delayed the outbreak of war as it appeased the northerners and southerners.

One of his notable policies was when he opened a trade relationship with the Japanese.

Millard Fillmore refused to run for another term in 1856. He returned to Buffalo and died on March 8, 1874, due to stroke.

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