Millard Fillmore’s Family and Descendants

Millard Fillmore, the 13th President of the United States, often remains overshadowed by his more illustrious contemporaries. Yet, to understand Fillmore not just as a political figure but as a person, one must delve into the intimate realms of his family life and lineage. Born in a log cabin in the early 19th century, Fillmore’s upbringing and the family he built provide valuable insights into his character and values.

This article explores the significant figures within Fillmore’s family, from his parents, Nathaniel Fillmore, Jr., and Phoebe Millard Fillmore, to his wives, Abigail Powers and Caroline Carmichael McIntosh, and his children, Millard Powers and Mary Abigail Fillmore. By examining his familial relationships, we can glean a deeper understanding of how his personal life impacted his presidency and left a lasting mark on his descendants.

Early Life and Family Roots

Nathaniel Fillmore, Jr.

Nathaniel Fillmore (Father of President Millard Fillmore)

Millard Fillmore’s father, Nathaniel Fillmore, Jr., was a pioneer of humble origins who faced the harsh realities of frontier life. Born to Nathaniel Fillmore Sr., a Revolutionary War veteran, Nathaniel Jr. worked as a farmer and later as a millwright. His resilience and work ethic were key traits that he passed on to his son. Living in the early United States, Nathaniel’s life and struggles reflected the broader societal challenges of the era, setting a foundational example for Millards future pursuits in law and politics.

Phoebe Millard Fillmore

Phoebe Millard Fillmore, Millard’s mother, came from a similarly modest background. Her steadfastness in the face of adversity and her nurturing nature were pivotal during Millards formative years. Despite the familys financial constraints, Phoebe ensured that her children received an education, fostering an environment of intellectual growth and moral guidance. Her influence was instrumental in shaping Millards character, instilling in him a lifelong appreciation for education and self-improvement.

Together, Nathaniel and Phoebes backgrounds and their approach to life were integral in forming the environment that propelled Millard Fillmore from a log cabin to the White House. Their values of hard work, education, and resilience were imbibed by Fillmore and echoed throughout his career and family life, setting the stage for his future endeavors and the upbringing of his own children.


Abigail Powers Fillmore

Portrait of Abigail Fillmore

Millard Fillmore married Abigail Powers in 1826, a union that significantly influenced his personal and professional life. Abigail, a teacher, was noted for her intelligence and deep love of learning, traits that she shared with Millard. She played a crucial role in his education, often lending him books and encouraging his studies before they married. As First Lady, Abigail continued her passion for education by establishing a White House library, enriching the cultural life of the presidential residence. Her death in 1853 deeply affected Millard, reflecting the profound bond they shared.

Caroline Carmichael McIntosh Fillmore

Caroline Carmichael McIntosh Fillmore (1865)

Following the death of his first wife, Millard remarried in 1858 to Caroline Carmichael McIntosh, a wealthy widow. This marriage brought different dynamics into Fillmores life, including managing the complexities of a blended family. Caroline was known for her social grace and managed the familys affairs with a firm hand. Though their marriage was marked by less of the intellectual partnership that characterized his relationship with Abigail, Caroline provided stability and comfort during Millard’s later years, especially after his presidency.

Children and Their Lives

Millard Powers Fillmore (Powers)

Millard Powers Fillmore sketch

Millard Powers Fillmore, commonly known as Powers, was the only son of Millard Fillmore and his wife Abigail. Born with the burden of expectation as the son of a prominent figure, Powers sought to carve out his own identity within the legal profession, an ambition likely inspired by his fathers successful career in law and politics.

Educated and articulate, Powers received a thorough education, a testament to both of his parents’ belief in the importance of intellectual pursuit. He attended Harvard University, which was quite a feat considering his family’s modest beginnings. After completing his studies, he returned to Buffalo, New York, to practice law. This was not just a professional choice but also a way to stay close to his family and support his fathers political and social endeavors.

Throughout his life, Powers was seen not only as Millard Fillmores son but also as his personal secretary and confidant, especially during the later years of Fillmores life when the former president returned to Buffalo after his presidency. Powers assisted his father with various legal and business matters, demonstrating a strong commitment to family and professional excellence. His premature death due to illness was a profound loss to Fillmore, who saw in Powers not only a beloved son but a capable successor in both intellectual and social capacities.

Mary Abigail Fillmore (Abby)

Mary Abigail Powers (Daughter of President Millard Fillmore)

Mary Abigail Fillmore, affectionately known as Abby, was the only daughter of Millard Fillmore and his wife Abigail. Born into a family that valued education and intellectual achievement, Abby was well-prepared to take on the role of a prominent woman in society.

From a young age, Abby was immersed in an environment that fostered learning and curiosity. Her mother, a former teacher, ensured that she received an excellent education, which was quite progressive for women at the time. Abby attended Buffalo Female Academy, a testament to her family’s commitment to education for both genders. This background not only enriched her intellectually but also equipped her to undertake responsibilities typically reserved for her mother.

During Millard Fillmore’s presidency, when her mother’s health declined, Abby often stepped in as the White House hostess. Her role during this time was crucial, as she managed social duties and hosted various events, showcasing her grace and competence. Her ability to handle these responsibilities at a young age highlighted her maturity and dedication to her family’s legacy.

Fillmores Legacy Through His Descendants

Millard Fillmore’s legacy extends beyond his political contributions and presidential tenure through the lives of his descendants, who continued to embody his values and principles in various ways. Although his immediate family, particularly his children, did not have extensive progeny, the broader impact of his lineage on historical and genealogical studies provides a window into the lasting influence of his family.

  1. Continuation of Public Service: Fillmore’s ethos of service and leadership trickled down through his descendants, some of whom pursued careers in public service or maintained active involvement in community and civic duties. This adherence to a public-minded spirit reflects Fillmore’s own commitment to his country and community.
  2. Advocacy and Education: Building on the foundation laid by Fillmore and his wife Abigail, subsequent generations maintained a strong emphasis on education. They upheld the belief in the power of learning as a means to elevate one’s social standing and personal efficacy, a principle deeply rooted in the Fillmore family ethos.
  3. Preservation of History: Fillmores descendants have also played a role in preserving and promoting their heritage through historical societies and family organizations. Their efforts ensure that the contributions of Millard Fillmore and his family are not lost to time but are instead remembered and studied by future generations.
  4. Cultural Contributions: Beyond politics and public service, some descendants have ventured into arts, academia, and other cultural spheres, spreading the familys influence into broader areas of American society. These pursuits highlight the diverse capabilities and interests nurtured within the Fillmore family.

Through these avenues, Millard Fillmores descendants continue to reflect his values and contribute to their communities, demonstrating how the personal characteristics of one president have rippled through generations.


Millard Fillmore’s family and descendants carry forward a legacy deeply rooted in education, public service, and community involvement. While his presidency may not be as widely remembered as others, the enduring values he instilled in his family resonate through generations, illustrating how personal lives can profoundly shape and inform public legacies. This exploration of Fillmore’s familial relationships not only provides insight into his character but also highlights the significance of family as a cornerstone in the narrative of a leader’s life and influence.