Monday, January 7, is the 208th anniversary of the birth of Millard Fillmore.
- Campaign poster from the 1856 presidential election, when Fillmore ran on the American Party ticket. The American Party is better known as the Know-Nothing Party. Library of Congress image. Fillmore failed to win the nomination of the Whig Party in 1852; he lost in 1856 with the Know-Nothings, too.
The rumor is inaccurate that there will be a big celebration in the organizing offices of the George W. Bush Presidential Library, same as they also celebrate the births of James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, and Warren G. Harding — those who bar the way of Bush’s being acclaimed as the worst president in U.S. history.
Watch a C-SPAN video on the Millard Fillmore map collection at the Library of Congress. Fillmore was a surveyor (a profession he shared with Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln, among others), and when he got the money, he collected maps. It’s a nice collection which I knew nothing about when I was in Washington, and which I would love to see. (I found the video via the American Presidents website.)
Fillmore was the last Whig Party president. So far as I can tell, the Whig Party has no plans to celebrate in any fashion. Peter Brimelow, Vox Day and Cleon Skousen were all unavailable for comment.
The University of Buffalo organizes a gravesite commemoration, set for January 7, 2008, 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time at Buffalo’s Forest Lawn Cemetery, where Fillmore is interred. Fillmore founded the University of Buffalo and was its first chancellor. If you plan to attend, you should register for the event.
Near Buffalo, in East Aurora, the annual dinner commemoratng Fillmore’s birthday will be held Thursday night:
This year’s dinner at The Roycroft Inn will be held on Jan. 10 at 6 p.m., missing Fillmore’s 208th birthday (Jan. 7) by just a few days. The meal is said to be inspired by Fillmore’s early days in East Aurora, and features a “Know-Nothing stew.” Guests can also enjoy a birthday cake provided by Tops. The Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce hosts the event, which is sponsored this year by OPCS Federal Credit Union. Seating at the dinner is limited, and reservations are available by calling the [East Aurora] Chamber [of Commerce] at [716?] 652-8444.
How will you celebrate Fillmore’s birthday?
Should we also note March 8, the day that both Fillmore and William Howard Taft died? Forgotten Presidents Day? Bathtub Presidents Day?
Press release from the University of Buffalo, dated January 2, 2008:
BUFFALO, N.Y. — The 208th anniversary of the birth of Millard Fillmore, the University at Buffalo’s first chancellor and 13th president of the United States, will be observed in ceremonies to be held at 10 a.m. Jan. 7 in Forest Lawn Cemetery at Fillmore‘s gravesite.
The annual observance honors Fillmore, who played a major role in the founding of numerous cultural, civic and community organizations in Erie County. Hosted by UB, the Forest Lawn Group and the Buffalo Club, the annual event will be free and open to the public.
Marsha S. Henderson, UB vice president for external affairs, will deliver the memorial address.
Born on Jan. 7, 1800, Fillmore was instrumental in founding the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society, the Buffalo Club and the Buffalo General Hospital. His activities also led to the creation of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy and the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences.
Some historians credit the former teacher, postmaster, lawyer and member of Congress with establishing the White House Library.
Col. Jim S. McCready, operations group commander of the 107th Refueling Wing of the New York Air National Guard based at Niagara Falls International Airport, will place a wreath from President George W. Bush at the gravesite.
Officials from the Buffalo Club, the Forest Lawn Group and UB will also be on hand to present wreaths.
The Rev. Joel Miller of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo will provide an invocation. The UB Police Color Guard will present the flags. To close the ceremony, UB student Stephen Biggie will play taps.
A reception will follow immediately in the Forest Lawn Chapel.
While this year’s commemoration marks the 43rd consecutive year UB has programmed the ceremony, the tradition to recognize the life of Millard Fillmore dates back to 1937.
From 1937 until 1965, the anniversary ceremonies were a cooperative staging by the City of Buffalo and the Buffalo Board of Education.
The events were administered by Irving R. Templeton, a 1909 graduate of UB, who scheduled two programs annually on or near Jan. 7, one in City Hall and one in Forest Lawn. Templeton was a partner in the law offices of Templeton, Turnabull & Templeton.
Following his death in 1965, responsibility for the event shifted to UB through an agreement between Chancellor Clifford C. Furnas and Alfred E. Kirchhofer, editor of The Buffalo Evening News. While UB participated in programming prior to Templeton’s death, the 1966 event marked the start of UB’s role as official steward of the annual community event.
The vice president for university relations and the Office of Public Affairs programmed the event from 1966-87, when the Office of Special Events began managing the program.
Visit http://www.ubevents.org/event/fillmore to review this year’s program and to register to attend.