Born: January 7,1800 in Cayuga County, in New York

Death: March 8, 1853 in Buffalo, New York

Presidential Term Dates: July 10, 1850 – March 04, 1853

Party: Whig

Office: 4 terms in Congress and Comptroller of New York State, Vice-President of the United States, 13th President of the United States

Profession: Lawyer

Religion: Unitarian

Wives: 2

Children: 2

Who was Millard Fillmore?

Millard Fillmore was the 13th President of the United States and a member of the Whig Party until its dissolution toward the 1850's. Millard Fillmore was born in a log cabin in Cayuga County, NY, where he spent most of his youth farming with his father. At age 14, Fillmore's father sent him away to become an apprentice under a clothier. As Millard Fillmore began to find apprenticeships in other areas, such as textile mills, he started to educate himself on reading and writing, eventually leading him to getting involved in education and law. He was mentored by a local judge in Buffalo, NY where he made many connections with political leaders, which led him to his career path in politics. Fillmore started off his political career as a member of the Anti-Masonic Party in 1828.

Throughout Fillmore's political career, he eventually became a member of the Whig Party running against members of other parties to take positions in the New York State government including four terms in Congress and New York State Comproller. In 1850, after the death of President Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore who was vice president during that time ascended the presidency.

Fillmore's cabinet members and fellow politicians helped him pass the Compromise of 1850, which was an important part of his presidency. The Compromise of 1850 admitted California to the Union as a free state, while New Mexico was given territorial status. The slave trade was abolished in Washington D.C. and the Fugitive Slave Act was passed as parts of the Compromise of 1850.

Fillmore's policies during the 1850's have been shown to prevent the spread of slavery throughout the country without abolishing slavery overall in the states that already had it as a way to preserve the Union. While Millard Fillmore was dealing with the sectional crisis within the United States during his presidency, he was also a supporter of expanding the economy and the construction of the transcontinental railroad, along with creating diplomatic ties with other countries, such as Japan, Mexico, and France. However, in 1853, Fillmore sent a U.S fleet of warships under the command of Commodore Matthew Perry to force the shogunate government of Japan to enter into trade and diplomatic relations with the United States, which has been a controversial part of Fillmore's foreign policy.

As the Whig Party disbanded toward the mid 1850's over slavery and the sectional conflict, Fillmore refused to join the Republican Party and chose to become the President of the Know-Nothing Party in 1856. Fillmore opposed President Abraham Lincoln's polices throughout the American Civil War, which led Fillmore to support President Andrew Johnson, a member of the Democratic Party, who took office during the Reconstruction period.

Archives & Special Collections

Contact us: (315) 312-3537


Have a Question? Ask the Archives

Need Help? Ask A Librarian

Collection Details

Material Types: papers, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and books

Collection Coverage: Local/New York State/National

Dates: 1817 – 1876

Languages: English, some French and Spanish

About the collection: The papers consist of incoming correspondence from 1817 to 1876, relating primarily to Millard Fillmore's law practice in Buffalo, New York, his political career in New York State, and his service in both the United States legislative and executive offices. Among the papers is correspondence from prominent American politicians, such as Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, President William Henry Harrison, Dorothea Dix, Anna Ella Carroll, and Thurlow Weed. There is an inventory of the books in his library and another of the furnishings taken from the White House at the close of his administration. Included are financial records, legal documents, speeches, writings and notes, newspaper clippings, ephemera, maps, passport, and miscellaneous materials.