Quote of the moment: Millard Fillmore on Peruvian guano


You couldn’t make this stuff up if you were Monty Python.

English: Millard Fillmore White House portrait

Millard Fillmore’s White House portrait, via Wikipedia

President Millard Fillmore, in the State of the Union Address, December 2, 1850

Peruvian guano has become so desirable an article to the agricultural interest of the United States that it is the duty of the Government to employ all the means properly in its power for the purpose of causing that article to be imported into the country at a reasonable price. Nothing will be omitted on my part toward accomplishing this desirable end. I am persuaded that in removing any restraints on this traffic the Peruvian Government will promote its own best interests, while it will afford a proof of a friendly disposition toward this country, which will be duly appreciated.

Update, May 22, 2013:  Phosphorus becomes even more critical, according to Mother Jones (phosphorus is a key component of bat and bird guano).

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6 Responses to Quote of the moment: Millard Fillmore on Peruvian guano

  1. [...] Someone, later, put quotes around the reporter’s words, and made them Fillmore’s.  You’d think someone would remember him for the Peruvian guano remarks instead, no?  (Gee, I’m not sure Mr. Kramer described that episode [...]

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  2. Mark says:

    It should be bird guano. Also known as ‘huanu’ by the Peruvians.

    Bat guano is from New Zealand apparently.

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  3. [...] Quote of the moment: Millard Fillmore on Peruvian guano « Millard … [...]

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  4. mpb says:

    It’s definitely bird droppings. Speaking from memory here (4th grade?)– the droppings were built up as a result of the anchovies (bird ate these) which are dependent on the current which is affected by global warming. I believe the guano was also the basis for national defense (gunpowder). The guano had built up so it could be mined.

    A similar situation is/was the island of Nauru in Polynesia. The island was sold by its residents, who made a lot of money, relatively speaking, and mined out. Florida has also been mined out, I believe. Maybe Nauru wasn’t guano but a phosphate rock.

    Guano, until very recently (Nauru) was extremely valuable. The Peruvian guano history would be fascinating for the linkages with climate, global fishing and its changes in the market, imperial globalism– economics–, etc. Maybe pizza adulterant.

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  5. Ed Darrell says:

    I’m really curious about whether it was bat guano, giving us a tie to “Dr. Strangelove,” or just good old bird guano.

    But the reaction I get when I ask the question in most venues is, “It’s all guano to me.” Or even worse, “What you guano know for?”

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  6. elektratig says:

    I have nothing to add.

    Like

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