Tom Peters? Izzat you?

March 8, 2007

I posted it earlier today, and this photo bugged me:

Wax head of Millard Fillmore

Why? What was it that made that thing appear so familiar?

I finally figured it out. The good news: Business change guru Tom Peters will be pleased to hear that this man above, rendered in wax, Millard Fillmore, was once called “the handsomest man I ever met,” by Queen Victoria.

Why would Peters be pleased?


Tom Peters

Tom Peters

Or maybe this one better makes the point:

Tom Peters

Tom Peters

Uncanny resemblance, no?

Maybe Peters’ company could buy the wax head . . .


Update, October 9, 2011 — Upon reflection, I think Tom Peters the much more handsome man.  Mind you, the story is that Queen Victoria called Fillmore the “most handsome man” she had ever seen.  That was before Sean Connery, before Brad Pitt, before Clark Gable, before Morgan Freeman . . .

Millard Fillmore’s famous quotes?

March 8, 2007

Some U.S. history curricula ran into Millard Fillmore — 8th grade in Texas, a few AP courses, perhaps. This blog is getting hit by people looking for “Millard Fillmore’s famous quotes.”

Here’s a word of warning, kids: You’ll probably get bad quotes if you hit the standard sites. The quotes listed on the quote sites and Wikipedia, I would not vouch for, for accuracy.

Instead, take a look at Fillmore’s State of the Union Speeches, and whatever else you can get from the New York State Library, Cornell University Library, or the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. You’re in an area that historians have not trod, much — which quotes do you think should be Fillmore’s “famous” ones? You get to decide, kids.

Drop a line here, and tell us which ones you listed, will you? This is your chance to write some history worth the reading.

Nota bene:  If you need information about Millard Fillmore’s childhood, this source at the Cornell University Library is the best I’ve found — in Fillmore’s own words.

Quarter past a generation gap

March 8, 2007

I left the building by a side door. 30 minutes after the final bell, the rules are that students are to be off campus. Two students were sitting on the retaining wall at the end of the walk, near the parking lot. “Hey, mister – you got a cell phone?” Was this the classic ‘may-I-borrow-your-cell-phone scam?

“Tell me why you want to know.”

“Oh, I just wondered what time it is,” he said, quite as if it was the normal way of the world.

“I have a watch; it’s 4:15.”

“A watch! Cool!”

Another generation gap: Many kids don’t wear watches. They carry cell phones that have the time accurate to within a few seconds – most of them. A few waiting for rides didn’t have a phone, and so they had no way to know the time.

How much longer will Rolex be able to hold on?

(Where were their parents or other rides?)

Millard Fillmore: Still dead, still misquoted, 133 years later

March 8, 2007

Millard Fillmore wax head A wax likeness of Millard Fillmore’s head, appearing to be for sale for $950.00.

March 8, 2007, is the 133rd anniversary of Millard Fillmore’s death.

Manus reprints the text from the New York Times story a few days later:

Buffalo, N.Y., March 8 — 12 o’clock, midnight. — Ex-President Millard Fillmore died at his residence in this city at 11:10 to-night. He was conscious up to the time. At 8 o’clock, in reply to a question by his physician, he said the nourishment was palatable; these were his last words. His death was painless.

First, I wonder how the devil the writer could possibly know whether Fillmore’s death was painless?

And second, accuracy obsessed as I am, I wonder whether this is the source of the often-attributed to Fillmore quote, “The nourishment is palatable.” Several sources that one might hope would be more careful attribute the quote to Fillmore as accurate — none with any citation that I can find. Thinkexist and Brainyquote charge ahead full speed. Wikipedia lists it. says the quote is “alleged,” in a discussion thread.

I’ll wager no one can offer a citation for the quote. I’ll wager Fillmore didn’t say it.

Millard Fillmore: We’d protect his legacy, if only anyone could figure out what it is.

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