“May God save the country, for it is evident the people will not.”
Millard Fillmore, 13th President of the United States, was born (January 7, 1800) in a log cabin and grew up on a small farm in upstate New York. He infrequently attended a one room school house when he had time. At age 19, he started attending school regularly, along with children who were much younger than him. Abigail, his young and pretty teacher, worked hard to help Millard Fillmore catch up. At age 20, Fillmore began teaching and studying law. He later married Abigail.
Fillmore might have gotten a late start, but he moved ahead quickly. He was elected to Congress and later became Zachary Taylor’s vice president. Fillmore became President when Taylor died.
- Millard Fillmore was born January 7, 1800 in Cayuga County, New York.
- Fillmore attended only six months of elementary school. He never attended college. He read many books and taught himself law.
- He married his school teacher, Abigail, in 1826. Abigail loved reading and learning. She started the first White House library. Fillmore often brought books home as a gift to her when he traveled.
- Abigail and Millard had two children. Abigail died in 1853 of pneumonia after attending a political event with Fillmore in fierce weather.
- Fillmore later married Caroline Carmichael McIntosh, a wealthy widow.
- Fillmore didn’t believe in slavery but he tried to find a fair compromise for both the North and the South.
- He signed the Compromise of 1850, which said that California would join the Union as a free (non-slave) state. The Compromise also said that if a slave ran away, slave owners could follow the slave into a free state to recapture him.
- The Whigs in the North were unhappy with the Compromise. They turned against Fillmore. Eventually the Whig party unraveled, partly because of this conflict. Fillmore was the last Whig President.
- Fillmore negotiated with Japan to allow trade
Questions and Answers
Question: Did the Compromise of 1850 solve the issue of slavery?
Answer: People became even angrier over slavery than before. The Compromise of 1850 delayed the Civil War, but did not solve the issue.
Visit the Miller Center to learn more about Millard Fillmore.