On July 10, 1850, Millard Fillmore ascended to the presidency


The popular hero of the Mexican-American War, Zachary Taylor, died on July 9. For the second time, a vice president was sworn in to replace the elected president.

Millard Fillmore was that vice president.

Millard Fillmore, in 1873, 20 years after he left the presidency. Portrait by C. M. Bell. From the Library of Congress.

Millard Fillmore, in 1873, 20 years after he left the presidency. Portrait by C. M. Bell. From the Library of Congress.

Fillmore ended the run of presidents by Whig Party members, the last Whig. He served out the term of Taylor, but despite trying, never succeeded in winning election on his own.

Most people including historians know little about Fillmore, except his unsavory role in signing the Fugitive Slave Act, and thereby pushing the nation closer to civil war. The hoax on Fillmore’s allegedly introducing a plumbed bathtub to the White House, by H. L. Mencken in 1917, stained Fillmore’s reputation and chased out most information about good things he had done, such as opening Japan to trade.

There are morals about hoaxes and fake news in Fillmore’s story. Those morals are much lost to history now.

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The author and a bronze likeness of Fillmore meet on a street in Rapid City, South Dakota, August 2016

The author and a bronze likeness of Fillmore meet on a street in Rapid City, South Dakota, August 2016

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3 Responses to On July 10, 1850, Millard Fillmore ascended to the presidency

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Richmx2, the statues of presidents idea came from a Gutzon Borglum bust of Abraham Lincoln that was a tourist draw at Rapid City’s Alex Johnson Hotel. Obama’s statue was installed this past year, if I remember correctly — but the original bust of Lincoln has moved on, to a Borglum museum down the road.

    Rushmore, nearby, is inspirational and beautiful, and smaller than Crazy Horse (which is really worth a trip); but Rapid City is a great place to spend a day or two and track down all the statues of presidents.

    Like

  2. richmx2 says:

    Forget about that other Presidential monument in Rapid City… this is the one to see :-)

    Like

  3. Heroes meet! Is that a book in his hand? I never heard Trump mentioning a book.

    Like

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