Millard Fillmore

— 13th President of the United States —

View full portraits at:
National Portrait Gallery or the White House Presidential Portrait Gallery


July 10, 1850 to March 3, 1853

BORN: January 7, 1800
Summer Hill, Cayuga County, N.Y.
March 8, 1874, Buffalo, N.Y.
Abigail Powers, 1826
Mary Abigail, Millard Powers

Fillmore grew up on a farm in the lush green countryside near the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. As most youths did back then, he shared the chores by chopping wood, clearing fields, and helping with the harvest. He liked to hunt and fish, but his father sent him to learn the clothmaking trade at age 14.

Things improved, though, when his father sent him to study law in 1819. Fillmore was so happy at getting out of the clothmaking business that he wept openly.

He briefly left his law studies to teach school, but he managed to be admitted to the New York State Bar in 1823. Fillmore was a member of the state assembly from 1829 to 1832, a member of Congress from 1833 to 1835, and again from 1837 to 1843.

Fillmore was an avid reader who collected more than 4,000 books for his own personal library. As president, he began the first permanent White House library.

Fillmore opposed the entry of Texas into the Union as a slave state, and he also voted for a protective trade tariff. He was defeated in his bid to be governor of New York in 1844.

Millard Fillmore was elected vice president in 1848, and he succeeded to the presidency when President Zachary Taylor died while in office. He favored the Compromise of 1850 and also signed the Fugitive Slave Law. These actions displeased those on both sides of the slavery issue, and he was not renominated at the 1852 convention.

The Know-Nothing party nominated Fillmore for president in the 1856 election, but he was defeated by the eventual winner, James Buchanan. He died in Buffalo, N.Y. on March 8, 1874.

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