American merchants and shipowners wanted Japan "opened up" for trade. This would allow not only commerce, but permit American ships to call there for food and water, and in emergencies without being punished. They were concerned that American sailors cast away on the Japanese coast were imprisoned as criminals. Perry on an expedition to open Japan to relations with the outside world. Perry and his ships reached Japan in July , four months after the end of Fillmore's term.
Fillmore was a staunch opponent of European influence in Hawaii. France under Napoleon III sought to annex Hawaii, but backed down after Fillmore issued a strongly worded message warning that "the United States would not stand for any such action. Fillmore had difficulties regarding Cuba ; many Southerners hoped to see the island part of the U.
This resulted in riots against the Spanish in New Orleans, causing their consul to flee; historian Elbert E. Smith, who wrote of the Taylor and Fillmore presidencies, suggested that Fillmore could have had war against Spain had he wanted it. Instead, Fillmore, Webster and the Spanish worked out a series of face-saving measures that settled the crisis without armed conflict.
Many Southerners, including Whigs, supported the filibusters, and Fillmore's response helped divide his party as the election approached. A much-publicized event of Fillmore's presidency was the arrival in late of Lajos Kossuth , the exiled leader of a failed Hungarian revolution against Austria. Kossuth wanted the U.
Many Americans were sympathetic to the Hungarian rebels, especially recent German immigrants, who were now coming to the U. Kossuth was feted by Congress, and Fillmore allowed a White House meeting after receiving word that Kossuth would not try to politicize it. In spite of his promise, Kossuth made a speech promoting his cause. The American enthusiasm for Kossuth petered out, and he departed for Europe; Fillmore refused to change American policy, remaining neutral. As the election of approached, Fillmore remained undecided whether to run for a full term as president.
Secretary Webster had long coveted the presidency and, though past seventy, planned a final attempt to gain the White House. Fillmore, sympathetic to the ambitions of his longtime friend, issued a letter in late stating that he did not seek a full term, but he was reluctant to rule it out, fearing the party would be captured by the Sewardites. Thus, approaching the national convention in Baltimore, to be held in June , the major candidates were Fillmore, Webster and General Scott. Weed and Seward backed Scott; in late May, the Democrats nominated former New Hampshire senator Franklin Pierce , who had been out of national politics for nearly a decade before , but whose profile had risen as a result of his military service in the Mexican War.
The nomination of Pierce, a northerner sympathetic to the southern view on slavery, united the Democrats and meant the Whig candidate would face an uphill battle to gain the presidency. Fillmore was by then unpopular with northern Whigs for signing and enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act, but had considerable support from the South, where he was seen as the only candidate capable of uniting the party.
Once the convention passed a party platform endorsing the Compromise as a final settlement of the slavery question, Fillmore was willing to withdraw, but found that many of his supporters could not accept Webster and his action would nominate Scott. The convention deadlocked, and this persisted through Saturday, June 19, when a total of 46 ballots had been taken; delegates adjourned until Monday. Party leaders proposed a deal to both Fillmore and Webster: if the secretary could increase his vote total over the next several ballots, enough Fillmore supporters would go along to put him over the top; if he could not, Webster would withdraw in favor of Fillmore.
The president quickly agreed, but Webster did not do so until Monday morning. On the 48th ballot, Webster delegates began to defect to Scott, and the general gained the nomination on the 53rd ballot. Webster was far more unhappy at the outcome than was Fillmore, who refused the secretary's resignation. Bereft of the votes of much of the South, and also of Northerners who depended on peaceful intersectional trade, Scott was easily beaten by Pierce in November.
Smith suggested that the Whigs might have done much better with Fillmore. The final months of Fillmore's term were uneventful. Webster died in October , but during the final illness, Fillmore effectively acted as his own Secretary of State without incident, and Everett stepped competently into Webster's shoes. Fillmore intended to lecture Congress on the slavery question in his final annual message in December, but was talked out of it by his cabinet, and he contented himself with pointing out the prosperity of the nation and expressing gratitude for the opportunity to serve it.
There was little discussion of slavery during the lame duck session of Congress, and Fillmore left office on March 4, , succeeded by Pierce. Fillmore was the first president to return to private life without independent wealth or possession of a landed estate. With no pension to anticipate, he needed to earn a living, and felt it should be in a way that would uphold the dignity of his former office. His friend, Judge Hall, assured him it would be proper for him to practice law in the higher courts of New York, and Fillmore so intended.
A saddened Fillmore returned to Buffalo for the burial. The former president ended his seclusion in early , as debate over Senator Douglas's Kansas—Nebraska Bill embroiled the nation. This would open the northern portion of the Louisiana Purchase to settlement, including slavery, and would end the northern limit on slavery under the Missouri Compromise of Fillmore retained many supporters, and planned an ostensibly nonpolitical national tour, while privately rallying disaffected Whig politicians to preserve the Union, and back him in a run for president.
Fillmore made public appearances opening railroads and visiting the grave of Senator Clay, but met with politicians out of the public eye, during the late winter and spring of Such a comeback could not be under the auspices of the Whig Party, with its remnants divided by the Kansas—Nebraska legislation which passed with the support of Pierce. Many northern foes of slavery, such as Seward, gravitated towards a new party, the Republicans , but Fillmore saw no home for himself there. There was in the early s considerable hostility towards immigrants, especially Catholics, who had recently arrived in the United States in large numbers; several nativist organizations, including the Order of the Star Spangled Banner , sprang up in reaction.
By , the Order had morphed into the American Party, which became known as the Know Nothings —in its early days, members were sworn to keep its internal deliberations private, and if asked, were to say they knew nothing about them. On January 1, , he sent a letter for publication, warning against immigrant influence in American elections, and soon thereafter joined the Order of the Star Spangled Banner.
Later that year, Fillmore went abroad, stating publicly that as he lacked office, he might as well travel. The trip was at the advice of political friends, who felt that by touring, he would avoid involvement in the contentious issues of the day, and he spent over a year, from March to June , in Europe and the Middle East. Queen Victoria is said to have pronounced the ex-president the handsomest man she had ever seen, and his coincidental appearance with Van Buren in the gallery of the House of Commons triggered a comment from MP John Bright.
Dorothea Dix had preceded him to Europe, and was lobbying to improve conditions for the mentally ill. They continued to correspond, and met several times. He carefully weighed the political pros and cons of meeting with Pius; he nearly withdrew from the meeting when told he would have to kneel and kiss the pope's hand. To avoid this, Pius remained seated throughout the meeting. Fillmore's allies were in full control of the American Party, and they arranged for him to get its presidential nomination while he was in Europe.
The Know Nothing convention chose Andrew Jackson Donelson of Kentucky to be Fillmore's running mate; he was the nephew by marriage and onetime ward of President Jackson. Fillmore made a celebrated return in June , speaking at a series of welcomes, which began with his arrival at a huge reception in New York City, and continued across the state to Buffalo. These addresses were portrayed as expressions of thanks for his reception, rather than as campaign speeches, which might be considered illicit office-seeking if made by a presidential hopeful. Fillmore warned that electing the Republican candidate, former California senator John C.
Both Fillmore and the Democratic candidate, former Pennsylvania senator James Buchanan , agreed that slavery was principally a matter for state and not federal government. Fillmore rarely spoke about the immigration question, and focused on the sectional divide, urging preservation of the Union.
Once Fillmore was back home in Buffalo, he had no excuse to make speeches, and his campaign stagnated through the summer and fall of Political fixers who had been Whigs, such as Weed, tended to join the Republican Party, and the Know Nothings lacked experience at selling anything but nativism. Accordingly, Fillmore's pro-Union stance mostly went unheard. On Election Day, Buchanan won with 1,, votes Fillmore and Donelson finished third, winning , votes He was out of the country when the nomination came and had not been consulted about running.
Furthermore, "By no spoken or written word had he indicated a subscription to American tenets. Fillmore considered his political career to be at an end with his defeat in He again felt inhibited from returning to the practice of law. But his financial worries were removed when on February 10, , he married Caroline McIntosh , a well-to-do widow.
Biography of President Millard Fillmore for Kids
Their combined wealth allowed them to purchase a large house on Niagara Square in Buffalo, where they lived for the remainder of his life. In the election of , Fillmore voted for Senator Douglas, the nominee of the northern Democrats. After the vote, in which the Republican candidate, former Illinois representative Abraham Lincoln was elected, many sought out Fillmore's views but he refused to take any part in the secession crisis that followed, feeling that he lacked influence. When Lincoln came to Buffalo en route to his inauguration, Fillmore led the committee selected to receive the president-elect, hosted him at his mansion, and took him to church.
Once war came, Fillmore supported Lincoln in his efforts to preserve the Union. The Continentals trained to defend the Buffalo area in the event of a Confederate attack. They performed military drill and ceremonial functions at parades, funerals, and other events. The Union Continentals guarded Lincoln's funeral train in Buffalo. They continued operations after the war, and Fillmore remained active with them almost until his death.
Despite Fillmore's zeal in the war effort, he gave a speech in early calling for magnanimity towards the South at war's end, and counting the heavy cost, financial and in blood, of the war.
The Lincoln administration saw this as an attack on it that could not be tolerated in an election year, and Fillmore was criticized in many newspapers, called a Copperhead and even a traitor. This led to lasting ill-feeling against Fillmore in many circles.
McClellan for the presidency, believing that the Democratic Party's plan for immediate cessation of fighting and allowing the seceded states to return with slavery intact was the best possibility for restoring the Union. After Lincoln's assassination in April , black ink was thrown on Fillmore's house because it was not draped in mourning like others; he was apparently out of town at the time and put black drapes in the windows once he returned.
Although he retained his position as Buffalo's leading citizen and was among those selected to escort the body when Lincoln's funeral train passed through Buffalo, there was still anger towards him for his wartime positions. He aided Buffalo in becoming the third American city to have a permanent art gallery, with the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy. Fillmore stayed in good health almost to the end, but suffered a stroke in February , and died after a second one on March 8. Two days later, he was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo after a funeral procession including hundreds of notables;  the U.
Senate sent three of its members to honor its former president, including Lincoln's first vice president, Maine's Hannibal Hamlin. According to biographer Scarry: "No president of the United States For example, later president Harry S. Truman "characterized Fillmore as a weak, trivial thumb-twaddler who would do nothing to offend anyone", and as responsible in part for the war. Calabresi and Christopher S. Yoo , in their study of presidential power, deemed Fillmore "a faithful executor of the laws of the United States—for good and for ill".
Fillmore's place in history has also suffered because "even those who give him high marks for his support of the compromise have done so almost grudgingly, probably because of his Know-Nothing candidacy in ". Benson Lee Grayson suggested that the Fillmore administration's ability to avoid potential problems is too often overlooked.
Fillmore's constant attention to Mexico avoided a resumption of the Mexican—American War and laid the groundwork for the Gadsden Treaty during Pierce's presidency. All of these crises were resolved without the United States going to war or losing face. Greenstein and Dale Anderson praised Fillmore for his resoluteness in his early months in office, noting that Fillmore "is typically described as stolid, bland, and conventional, but such terms underestimate the forcefulness evinced by his handling of the Texas—New Mexico border crisis, his decision to replace Taylor's entire cabinet, and his effectiveness in advancing the Compromise of ".
Millard Fillmore, with his wife Abigail, established the first White House library. Any assessment of a President who served a century and a half ago must be refracted through a consideration of the interesting times in which he lived. Fillmore's political career encompassed the tortuous course toward the two-party system that we know today. The Whigs were not cohesive enough to survive the slavery imbroglio, while parties like the Anti-Masonics and Know-Nothings were too extremist.
When, as President, Fillmore sided with proslavery elements in ordering enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law, he all but guaranteed that he would be the last Whig President. The first modern two-party system of Whigs and Democrats had succeeded only in dividing the nation in two by the s, and seven years later, the election of the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, would guarantee civil war. The house is designated a National Historic Landmark. The DAR placed this plaque on the house in From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Thirteenth President of the United States. For his son, see Millard Powers Fillmore. Photo by Mathew Brady , c. Anti-Masonic before Whig — Know Nothing — Abigail Powers m. Caroline McIntosh m. Main article: United States presidential election, For further information on the procedures of American political conventions, see United States presidential nominating convention. Further information: Compromise of Main article: Presidency of Millard Fillmore. Main article: Whig National Convention. A memorial to Fillmore on the gate surrounding his plot in Buffalo. Prior to the adoption of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment in , a vacancy in the office of Vice President was not filled until the next ensuing election and inauguration.
American Presidents: Life Portraits. Archived from the original on February 24, Retrieved December 20, Archived from the original on October 18, Retrieved October 19, History of Cayuga County. Syracuse, NY: D. Millard Fillmore Papers. History of the City of Buffalo and Erie County. Geneseo, New York: Edward L. Town of Aurora: — The New-York State Register for Archived from the original on April 21, Retrieved March 13, Archived from the original on July 30, Retrieved March 4, District Courts or U.
Circuit Courts and also Millard Fillmore. Retrieved September 8, Archived from the original on November 5, Internet Public Library. Retrieved December 21, Millard Fillmore. Hobart and William Smith Colleges Library. Archived from the original PDF on May 5, Retrieved January 11, Nevins states that Fillmore was not publicly a member but historian William Gienapp says he was a secret member. William E. Kaleida Health. Retrieved December 31, Buffalo Historical Society. Hamilton, Presidents: A Biographical Dictionary , , p. The Wall Street Journal.
Retrieved December 1, The National First Ladies' Library. Retrieved December 19, Millard Fillmore College. Archived from the original on December 1, University at Buffalo. Archived from the original on December 2, United States Mint. Archived from the original on November 4, Retrieved November 19, Offices and distinctions. House of Representatives New constituency Member of the U. Love Member of the U. Articles related to Millard Fillmore. Presidents of the United States. Grant — Rutherford B. Hayes — James A. Garfield Chester A.
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McKennan Alexander H. Stuart — Whig Party. Donelson Crittenden Thomas Corwin Alexander H. Historical right-wing third party U. John M. Wright Anderson List of third party performances in United States presidential elections. Chancellors and Presidents of the University at Buffalo. Fillmore — Marshall — Sprague — Putnam — Bissell — Gorham acting, — Norton — Cooke acting, — Capen — McConnell — Knox acting, Furnas — Puffer acting, — Furnas — Furnas — Meyerson — Regan acting, — Ketter — Sample — Greiner — Simpson — Tripathi —.
New York State Comptrollers. Fitzsimons W. Campbell J. Zachary Taylor. Henry Clay John M. Clayton Winfield Scott Daniel Webster. Lewis Cass. William O. Martin Van Buren. Charles F. John P. Hale Joshua R. Other elections : House Senate. Franklin Pierce.
William R. Douglas William L. Winfield Scott. William A. Crittenden Millard Fillmore Daniel Webster. On August 6, , he sent a message to Congress recommending that Texas be paid to abandon her claims to part of New Mexico. This helped influence a critical number of northern Whigs in Congress away from their insistence upon the Wilmot Proviso—the stipulation that all land gained by the Mexican War must be closed to slavery.
Admit California as a free state. Settle the Texas boundary and compensate her. Grant territorial status to New Mexico. Place Federal officers at the disposal of slaveholders seeking fugitives. Abolish the slave trade in the District of Columbia. Each measure obtained a majority, and by September 20, President Fillmore had signed them into law. Some of the more militant northern Whigs remained irreconcilable, refusing to forgive Fillmore for having signed the Fugitive Slave Act.
They helped deprive him of the Presidential nomination in Within a few years it was apparent that although the Compromise had been intended to settle the slavery controversy, it served rather as an uneasy sectional truce. He died in Copyright by the White House Historical Association. Millard Fillmore.