Served: July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853
Born: January 7, 1800
Birthplace: Summerhill, New York
Died: March 8, 1874
Political Party: Anti-Masonic (pre-1832), Whig (1832-1856), American (1856-1860)
Spouse: Abigail Powers
An Outspoken President
Millard Fillmore is known as being the last elected president belonging to the Whig party. He became the 13th president of the United States, following Zachary Taylor’s death while in office.
During his presidency, Fillmore was known for his support of anti-slavery laws and bills as well as his conflicts with foreign governments such as France and Great Britain.
Earlier, Fillmore was the co-founder of the University at Buffalo. Later, he was outspoken in his views against Abraham Lincoln’s presidential office during the Civil War.
From Cloth Maker to Lawyer
When Fillmore was 14, he became apprentice to a cloth maker in New York. However, later Fillmore attended school and studied law instead. He was admitted to the bar in 1823 and began practicing law in New York, where he opened what would later become one of New York’s most prestigious firms.
During the Mexican-American War, Fillmore served in the New York militia. In 1826 he married Abigail Powers, and they had two children.
Millard Fillmore’s Pets
- Mason and Dixon, ponies
- President Fillmore was a founding member and president of the Buffalo chapter of the ASPCA.
MORE PETS! Check out our photo gallery of selected White House pets
Fillmore’s Path to Presidency
Fillmore began his political career as a New York assemblyman and additional positions included on the 23rd Congress, 25th Congress, 26th Congress, and 27th Congress. During this time, he supported and voted for the prohibition of the slave trade as well as other anti-slavery bills and measures that came up at the time.
Fillmore was appointed as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee but was unsuccessful in getting elected as speaker of the House of Representatives in 1841 or as governor of New York.
In 1848, he was nominated for vice president under Zachary Taylor. While he had a well-known hatred of the slave trade, he still felt that because slavery already existed in the South, these areas should be protected and that some of the newer states being admitted should be allowed to practice slavery as well.
Fillmore’s presidency began suddenly when Taylor died on July 9, 1850. Knowing that Fillmore would become president, all the cabinet members resigned. Fillmore filled the seats with members who he knew agreed with him on key points like the Compromise of 1850, a law that was meant to appease both Northern and Southern citizens.
Did You Know…?
- Fillmore brought many modern amenities into the White House, including the first stove — which he had to teach the cook how to use — and the first bathtub. He also set up the first official White House library.
- Although he became Taylor’s vice president in 1848, Fillmore had never actually met Taylor until his nomination.
- After President Taylor died, Fillmore was not sworn in as president until the next day, and so the country was technically without a president for more than a day. Fillmore also never gave an inaugural address. And because he didn’t seek election after his term ended, he became president without ever running.