Millard Fillmore from a very young age worked on the farm of his father and by the time he was of 15 years, he was an apprentice to a cloth dresser. He did have formal schooling but it was a small rural school. In the year 1823, Millard Fillmore was admitted to the bar and seven years later he moved to Buffalo to practice law. The initiation of Millard Fillmore's political career began with his election to the New York State Assembly on the Anti-Masonic ticket, serving for a term from 1829 to 1831. Events followed, and in the year 1832, he was elected as a Whig to the 23rd Congress for serving a period from 1833 to 1835. He won the Congressional Elections for the three consecutive times and served as the representative of the Congress till 1843. Millard Fillmore, by the virtue of his relation to the Whig politician Thurlow Weed, could maintain a State Office and was a member of the House of Representatives for eight years.
In the year 1848, Millard Fillmore was elected as the Vice President of United States of America. This very election saw Zachary Taylor as the President of the United States.
The sudden death of Zachary Taylor within 1 year brought Millard Fillmore to the office of the US President with a suddenness that he hardly expected.
With his rise to the office of the US President, Fillmore immediately initiated a process of overhauling the senate, based on his pro-Compromise steps. Daniel Webster was appointed as the Secretary of State and Senator Stephen Douglas replaced Henry Clay. Fillmore initiated a process of unification among the Congress, finally consolidating his alliances to perpetuate the Compromise. One of his masterstrokes was a deft handling of the Texas issue. He successfully persuaded Texas to waive its control over parts of New Mexico. It helped to appease the Northern Democrats, and put the secessionist forces to rest for the time being. Douglas, at the same time, broke up the single legislative package of Clay, and divided it into five different bills. After much debate, particularly on the bill that dealt with the controversial clause of the Fugitive slaves, the Compromise of 1850 finally saw the light of the day, based on the following five formulations:
1.Granting of territorial status to New Mexico.
2.Placement of Federal officers at the disposal of slaveholders seeking fugitives.
3.Abolishing the slave trade in the District of Columbia.
4.Admission of California as a free state.
5.Settlement of the Texas boundary and compensate her
Fillmore signed them between 9th to 20th September. It was his greatest achievement in his tenure as the President. Although the Compromise has been open to much political debate, yet for the time being it was a commendable achievement for Millard Fillmore.
Millard Fillmore was also adept at foreign policies. He was the first to initiate steps that would open trade route for Japan in the West. His firmness was also exhibited in the way he stood firm in the face of immense provocation from German-American citizens to interfere in the affair of Hungarian Independence. However, Fillmore stood firm with America's non-intervention policies.
After the end of his Presidential tenure, Fillmore was denied Whig nomination in the 1852 elections for the President. His venture at the Presidential venture in 1856 as a Whig candidate for the Know Nothing Party also met with failure. Throughout his political life, Fillmore was against President Lincoln and sided with President Johnson till he died in the year 1874.
A few of the memorable quotations by Millard Fillmore include:
- "Nothing brings out the lower traits of human nature like office-seeking. Men of good character and impulses are betrayed by it into all sorts of meanness."
- "May God save the country, for it is evident that the people will not."
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