Millard Fillmore
by R.D. Monroe, Ph.D.


Millard Fillmore (1800-1874) endured a hardscrabble, rural childhood in New York, eventually becoming a lawyer through self-education and hard work. He entered political life, rising to become a Whig congressman and chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means committee. In 1848, Fillmore was selected as the vice presidential running mate of a Whig ticket that featured Zachary Taylor in the presidential slot. With the death of Taylor in July 1850, Fillmore became president and shepherded passage of the Compromise of 1850, legislation that settled, for a time, the nasty sectional quarrel over the disposition of land acquired from Mexico. Fillmore was denied renomination by the Whigs in 1852, but four years later the nativist American party nominated him for presidency.