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Millard Fillmore

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Millard was the first son of Nathaniel and Phoebe Fillmore. Millard was his mother's maiden name. He was born in a wilderness cabin in Cayuga County, New York, separated from neighbors by four miles of forest. His father had poor luck in his farming and found it the meanest of occupations. He did not urge farming on any of his five sons. Millard was apprenticed to a lawyer and thus began his law and public career. He was admitted to the bar in 1823. After a six year courtship, Millard and Abagail Powers were married in Feb. 1826 and went to live in East Aurora, New York.

In 1830 they moved to Buffalo, N. Y. where he continued his law practice and began his public career. He served in the New York State Assembly and later in the U. S. House of Representatives. In 1834 he joined the Whig Party and was three times elected to the House.

When Zachary Taylor was nominated for President, Millard Fillmore was nominated by Henry Clay for Vice President. Fillmore became the thirteenth President when Zachary Taylor died on July 9. 1850. Fillmore appointed Daniel Webster as his Secretary of State, and the two of them tried to make the Whigs a national party that, by occupying a middle ground on the issue of slavery, could conciliate the North and the South and prevent extremists from gaining power.

During this time many changes were taking place and numerous discordant elements were evident. In order to settle disputes, Webster and Fillmore pushed through Congress what was called "The Compromise of 1850". Instead of keeping peace between the states, the Compromise angered both the South and the North. It served only to stave off the Civil War for ten years.

Postal rates in 1850 were 5¢ and 10¢, Fillmore had the rates reduced and the result was a range of rates from 1¢ to 12¢.

Both Fillmore's wife and daughter preceded him in death.

There is a statue of Millard Fillmore in a park in Buffalo, N.Y.

His Religion
Millard Fillmore

We know nothing of Millard Fillmore's religious life as a child. He and Abigail Powers were married by the Reverend H. H. Smith in Moravia, New York. They lived in East Aurora, New York where Millard practiced law.

Sometime after they moved to Buffalo, they joined the First Unitarian Society. The pew rental assignment from the original church shows the pew which belonged to the Fillmore family. The church building, where they worshipped was burned around the year 1870, and most of the church records were burned too.

While Mr. Fillmore was in Washington, D. C. he attended the Unitarian Church. One minister, the Rev. Joseph Henry Allen, a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, was minister here from 1847-1850. Allen's sermons dealt with many of the perplexing problems of the time. Foremost among them was, of course, slavery. Though many preachers were avoiding discussion of this matter, he, like Longfellow and Channing, never hesitated to express himself on the side of freedom. However, his ministry lasted only three years.

It has been written, that the years between 1827-1854 were "Years of Struggle" for the Unitarian Society in Washington, D.C. "It was misunderstood and misrepresented in the community and at times political dissensions threatened its existence. But the families of .... John Adams .... John Quincy Adams....and Millard Fillmore during his presidency stood together in the old church edifice as in a strong fortress. It was important to them and to those who were to come after that a Unitarian Church in the capital of the nation be maintained. And thanks to them, it was."

Abraham Lincoln attended the Unitarian Church in Buffalo with Millard Fillmore on Lincoln's way to the inauguration. Lincoln was Fillmore's overnight guest.

Jean Brockley

Fillmore showed his interest in education by helping to found the University of Buffalo, now the State University of New York.

There is a statue of Millard Fillmore in a park in Buffalo, New York.


Thirteenth President of the U.S. A.
First Day Cover
First Day Cover issued on September 22, 1938
The Presidential Series

The cachet on this cover pictures Millard Fillmore and two events which took place during his administration. The top sketch concerns the Arctic expedition of Dr. Elisha Kent Kane, which Dr. Kane led in 1853-54. The scientific observations resulted in valuable new information on arctic regions.

The bottom sketch concerns the legislation passed during his administration, namely: "The Compromise of 1850," sometimes called: "The Omnibus Bill" in posters and cartoons because a variety of measures was included. Under this bill: California came into the Union as a free state (not slave); the boundary between New Mexico and Texas was settled; governments were organized for the territories of New Mexico and Utah; the slave trade in the District of Columbia was abolished; the Fugitive Slave Law, which provided for the recovery of fugitives from labor (a continuation of the 1793 law) was included.

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