Millard Fillmore, live on Peachtree Street, 1854

March 4, 2015

Lower Peachtree Street, Atlanta, in 1910, 56 years after ex-President Millard Fillmore visited. Library of Congress photo via Chamblee54

Lower Peachtree Street, Atlanta, in 1910, 56 years after ex-President Millard Fillmore visited. Library of Congress photo via Chamblee54

Chamblee54, in a history of Peachtree Street studded with interesting photographs, notes Atlanta’s first-time brush with any ex-president:

In 1854, Atlanta entertained, for the first time, a man who had been President. On May 2, Millard Fillmore arrived from Augusta on a private rail car.

Two years after the Whigs refused to nominate Fillmore for a term of his own, he was out touring the country?

Several accounts explain that Fillmore and his wife Abigail wanted to tour the U.S. after his presidency.  Unfortunately, she died shortly after he left office.  He pined through the rest of 1853, but by February 1854 had decided to tour by himself, without his children, accompanied by friends he could persuade to join him.

That same month, Fillmore decided to take the trip southward that he and Abigail had not been able to take. Given the timing, some observers believed that Fillmore had a political motive in making the journey.  They suspected that he might be planning to speak out against the Nebraska Bill [proposed by Illinois’s U.S. Senator Stephen A. Douglas]. Others were convinced that it was a leisure tour.  But whatever Fillmore’s intentions may have been, his speeches to southern audiences were relatively neutral.  He restated his faith in the [Missouri] Compromise, but he spent mos tof his time enjoying a series of receptions, dinners, and parades in his honor throughout the region.  A marching band escorted him through the streets of Louisville, Kentucky.  Girls scattered his path with flowers in Montgomery, Alabama.  A row of trains blew their whistles in greeting in Atlanta, Georgia.  Fillmore returned home refreshed and with renewed faith in his fellow Americans.

Alison Behnke, Millard Fillmore (a child’s history of the man), 2005, page 92.

A longer description came out of Robert J. Scarry’s 1982 biography:

By late February 1854 Fillmore had resumed his plans to travel.  He perceived that a southern trip would do him good and that the journey would divert his mind from the loss of Abigail.

*******

Fillmore hoped Francis Granger, John P. Kennedy, and Washington Irving would go with him on the trip. Granger lost interest, and Irving, who had been asked by his friend Kennedy, was in no mood for politics.

*******

En route to Atlanta from Augusta on the Georgia Railroad, they stopped at Greensboro where a large crowd of teachers and students of the Female College greeted Fillmore and Kennedy.  They dined at Madison.  At Stone Mountain an escort committee from Atlanta met them.

At the Atlanta Depot a novel reception welcomed them.  A large number of locomotives were present with their steam up.  When the Augusta engineer signalled their arrival they all opened up their valves and whistled out a welcome the like of which, reported a newspaper, “no mortal man had heard before.” The shouts from the crowd and locomotive whistles were deafening to one reporter.  By carriage the party went from the depot to the Atlanta Hotel where a reception was held.

Fillmore had become hoarse. Nonetheless, he managed to say that he was impressed by the large population and that he had heard that it was a beautiful village in the center of the state. He also admonished the state legislature to to take note “of the array of female loveliness before me” seated at the reception.  If they did so, he joked, they wouldn’t hesitate to locate the state capital at Atlanta.  At that time the capital was at Milledgeville.  Atlanta became the capital in 1877.  In the evening, after dinner, a ball was held.  Fifty young ladies dressed in white with bouquets of flowers were a highlight of the occasion.

Robert J. Scarry, Millard Fillmore, 1982, pages 247-252 variously.

Any photos of Fillmore in Atlanta?

Millard Fillmore is in some ways the ultimate exemplar of American civic boosterism.  These accounts tend to be softball, even when the potential political effects of his trip to Atlanta are discussed.  One gets a sense that contemporary accounts of the trip were equally bland and uncontroversial.  Fillmore’s trip offered a lot of local chamber of commerce precursors a chance to plug their local industry, development and pride.  Fillmore seems incapable of not offering pride-stoking flattery to these group of people.  That’s not necessarily bad.

Within a dozen years the nation would be engulfed in the Civil War.  Atlanta would be burned.  The railroads Fillmore rode would be torn up by Union armies.

What a snapshot, even without photos.

A not-often seen image of Millard Fillmore.  Via Accessible Archives.

A not-often seen image of Millard Fillmore. Via Accessible Archives.


Millard Fillmore, blazing paths as an ex-president

January 15, 2015

Caption from the University of Buffalo: Aurora [New York] town historian Robert Goller delivers the commemorative address indoors at the Margaret L. Wendt Archive and Resource Center in Forest Lawn. Photo: Douglas Levere - See more at: http://www.buffalo.edu/ubreporter/campus/campus-host-page.host.html/content/shared/university/news/ub-reporter-articles/stories/2015/01/fillmore_commemoration.detail.html#/imagegallery/5

Caption from the University of Buffalo: Aurora [New York] town historian Robert Goller delivers the commemorative address indoors at the Margaret L. Wendt Archive and Resource Center in Forest Lawn. Photo: Douglas Levere – See more at: http://www.buffalo.edu/ubreporter/campus/campus-host-page.host.html/content/shared/university/news/ub-reporter-articles/stories/2015/01/fillmore_commemoration.detail.html#/imagegallery/5

I finally found reports of the ceremonies at Millard Fillmore’s gravesite, from January 7, Fillmore’s 215th birth anniversary.  This one comes from the Seneca (New York) Bee:

Historian delivers annual address at Fillmore memorial

by MARY BEST
Reporter

Frigid temperatures didn’t turn away a crowd at the 50th annual Millard Fillmore Commemoration Ceremony at Forest Lawn Cemetery on Jan. 7.

The program, presented by the University at Buffalo and co-hosted by Forest Lawn and the Buffalo Club, was celebrated on Fillmore’s 215th birthday. Robert Goller, Town of Aurora historian, gave the memorial address.

New York Air National Guard Col. Kevin Rogers began the ceremony by laying a wreath at Fillmore’s grave site from President Barack Obama, in keeping with tradition of past presidents. Deputy Mayor of the City of Buffalo Ellen Grant also presented a wreath, later adorned with pins from representatives of Fillmore’s legacy organizations.

Fillmore returned to Buffalo following his loss of the 1852 presidential election. He had a hand in establishing and ensuring the survival of many organizations including the Albright Knox Art Gallery, the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library System, the SPCA serving Erie County and the University at Buffalo.

Due to the subzero wind chill, Goller delivered the memorial address from the Margaret L. Wendt Archive and Resource Center after the wreath dedications.

Goller began his address describing Fillmore’s humble beginnings, including the rough journey Fillmore took from Central New York on foot to arrive to his family’s home in Aurora.

“It’s easy to forget that in Millard Fillmore’s day, there wasn’t even a railroad to take the future president halfway across New York State,” Goller said.

The Aurora Historical Society, which runs the Millard Fillmore National Historic Landmark Museum, is also raising funds to commemorate Fillmore’s legacy by commissioning a presidential site to include a statue and a recreation of Fillmore’s law office. Goller also noted Fillmore’s role presiding over the Senate as vice president during a turbulent time in history, which dealt with slavery and secession.

Fillmore’s greatest legacy, however, happened after his time at the White House was over, an often overlooked period of time, according to Goller.

“While Fillmore’s presidency was relatively short, he was probably one of the most effective at using the power of the post-presidency to lend support to important efforts,” Goller said. “The word retirement certainly didn’t describe Millard Fillmore after he left the White House, and we have a much better community today because of it.”

Goller ended by noting the revitalization of Buffalo, most notably the development at the waterfront. He credited Fillmore with igniting the fire when he showed the same passion in the Western New York Community more than a century ago.

“We must not forget that it’s the people, not necessarily the buildings that make the community thrive,” Goller said. “Today we honor one of those people who saw potential in our community and maybe do our best as stewards of our community to continue Millard Fillmore’s legacy of civic pride and community spirit.”

email: @beenews.commbest


New York Air National Guard honored Millard Fillmore, presented President Obama’s wreath at grave

January 7, 2015

I wasn’t there; this is the press release:

107th Airlift Wing Honors Millard Fillmore During Annual Ceremony at Presidents Grave Wednesday, Jan. 7

New York Air National Guard Col. Kevin Rogers places a wreath from President Barack Obama at the gravesite of President Millard Fillmore on Jan. 7, 2015. (Photo by Tech Sgt. Brandy Fowler, 107th AW)

New York Air National Guard Col. Kevin Rogers places a wreath from President Barack Obama at the gravesite of President Millard Fillmore on Jan. 7, 2015. (Photo by Tech Sgt. Brandy Fowler, 107th AW)

BUFFALO, NY (01/07/2015)(readMedia)– New York Air National Guard Col. Kevin Rogers marked the 215th birthday of President Millard Fillmore by laying a wreath from President Barack Obama at the grave of the 13th President on Wednesday, Jan. 7.

The tribute from the 107th Airlift Wing Inspector General, was part of the 50th graveside ceremony marking Fillmore’s birth conducted at Forest Lawn Cemetery by the University of Buffalo.

Fillmore, who was president from 1850 to 1853, was one of the founders of the University of Buffalo. He was also the school’s first Chancellor and instrumental in founding Buffalo’s General Hospital and local libraries and museums.

The University of Buffalo has hosted a graveside ceremony for Fillmore for the past 50 years. The ceremony also encompasses another tradition: the presentation of wreaths form the current president at the gravesites of past presidents on their Birthday.

The 107th Airlift Wing, based at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, traditionally places a wreath on Fillmore’s Grave. The New York National Guard also places wreaths on the graves of President Martin Van Buren in Kinderhook and President Chester Arthur in Albany.

Fillmore was born in 1800 in Moravia New York. He was a lawyer and served in the New York State Assembly. He served in the United States Congress from 1833 to 1835 and again from 1837 to 1845.

Fillmore ran unsuccessfully for governor of New York in 1844 but was defeated. He ran successfully for the position of State Comptroller in 1847 and was the first person to serve in that office as the state’s financial watchdog.

In 1848 Fillmore was nominated to run as vice president with the popular General Zachery Taylor, a hero of the Mexican War. Taylor died suddenly and Fillmore became president. He approved the bills that put in place the Compromise of 1850 designed to allow Texas to enter the Union as a Slave State in exchange for California entering it as a Free State. The measure also banned the sale of slaves in the District of Columbia.

Fillmore, the last member of the Whig Party to serve as president, returned home to Buffalo after losing the election of 1852. During the Civil War Fillmore, a former Major in the New York Militia, commanded a Buffalo home guard regiment called the Union Corps. He died in 1874.

The New York Air National Guard’s 107th Airlift Wing shares Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station with the Air Force Reserve’s 914th Airlift Wing. The unit is currently in the process of transitioning to a mission flying remotely piloted MQ-9 aircraft after previously flying the C-130 transport aircraft and the KC-135 refueling plane.

Members of the 107th Airlift Wing also respond to New York state emergencies and were heavily involved in responding to the lake effect snowstorm which hit Erie County in November.


Graveside commemoration for Millard Fillmore’s birthday in Buffalo, January 7

January 6, 2015

Are you going to the graveside event in Buffalo, New York, for Millard Fillmore’s birthday?

Press release from the University of Buffalo:

Millard Fillmore’s Buffalo legacy to be recognized at commemoration

A plaque commemorating Millard Fillmore hangs on a gate in front of the grave site in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

By Sue Ann Wuetcher

December 30, 2014

“Millard Fillmore’s imprint on Buffalo’s development into a leading U.S. city of the 19th century is unparalleled and his legacy today remains truly vibrant.”
- William J. Regan, director of special events,University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – If Millard Fillmore, the much-maligned 13th president of the United States, were alive today, he might tell you he has a lot to be proud of.

Fillmore helped establish UB — serving as the university’s first chancellor from 1847 until his death in 1874 —and he played a major role in founding numerous cultural, civic and community organizations in Buffalo and Erie County, among them the Buffalo History Museum, the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library and Buffalo General Medical Center.

He also was instrumental in framing the charter that transformed the village of Buffalo into the city of Buffalo, and as a four-term congressman, secured funding to enlarge the Buffalo Harbor and expand the Erie Canal.

Fillmore’s “legacy organizations” will be well represented at the annual commemoration of Fillmore’s birthday, the 50th year UB has organized the annual program.

The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. Jan. 7 — the 215th anniversary of Fillmore’s birth — at Fillmore’s gravesite in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

“In celebrating 50 years of planning this event, we thought it would be fitting to include all the organizations that can trace their roots back to Millard Fillmore,” says William J. Regan, director of special events. “Millard Fillmore’s imprint on Buffalo’s development into a leading U.S. city of the 19th century is unparalleled and his legacy today remains truly vibrant as these organizations continue to define and lead Buffalo in so many ways.”

The roster of organizations Fillmore touched is impressive, Regan says, and includes the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, The Buffalo Club, the Buffalo Public Schools, Buffalo Science Museum, the law firm Hodgson Russ LLP and the SPCA serving Erie County, as well as the history museum, public library, Buffalo General and, of course, UB.

Representatives of these organizations — Provost Charles F. Zukoski will represent UB — will give short tributes to Fillmore and present a community wreath to be placed on Fillmore’s grave. Wreaths also will be presented by the White House and Forest Lawn. Col. Kevin Rogers, inspector general of the 107th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard based at the Niagara Falls Air Base, will place the White House wreath on behalf of President Obama.

Robert Goller, Town of Aurora historian, will deliver the memorial address and provide an account of Fillmore’s early days. Although he was born in Moravia, Cayuga County, Fillmore started his law practice in East Aurora and built a house there for himself and his wife, Abigail.

Following the gravesite ceremony, a reception sponsored by Forest Lawn and the Buffalo Club will be held in the new Margaret L. Wendt Archive and Resource Center in Forest Lawn.

The tradition to honor Fillmore dates back to 1937. From 1937 until 1965, the commemoration was staged by the city of Buffalo and the Buffalo Board of Education. The annual ceremonies 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.

The responsibility of planning the commemoration shifted to UB when Templeton died in 1965. Although UB participated in the Fillmore birthday commemoration during Templeton’s stewardship, the university took over the ceremony and made it a community event starting in 1966.

The ceremony is open to all members of the UB and broader Western New York communities. Registration is encouraged at www.ubevents.org/event/mf2015

– See more at: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2014/12/043.html#sthash.dqcO3WTO.dpuf

No bathtub races this year, that I have found.

Do you know of any other commemorations of Fillmore’s birthday?


December 2: Millard Fillmore’s Guano Day!

December 1, 2014

Why December 2?

(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.

Did any other U.S. President spend so much time thinking about guano?  Did any president ever mention it in a State of the Union Address?  The curious case of Millard Fillmore, Seer, just grows.

Guano, or bird poop (and its relative, bat poop), contains phosphorus, which is an essential element for life.  Consequently, it turns out to be a key ingredient in effective agricultural fertilizers.  In international competition for supremacy in farming and farm exports, guano became a key resource to fight over, in the 19th century.

It’s almost safe to say the fights were economic; but guano did play a key role in wars in South America (see Andrew Leonard’s article, noted below).

Fillmore figured out that the substance had great importance, coupled that with the rather esoteric knowledge that sea birds tended to deposit guano in great abundance on certain islands, often unoccupied, and ordered the U.S. Navy to claim islands found to contain guano deposits that were not claimed by other nations.

By the American Civil War, the importance of phosphorus to the production of gun powder became an issue for the armies of the North and South.  Millard Fillmore had set the stage for the North to win an important advantage in gun powder production, just one of many that led to the defeat of the South.

It’s one more thing we should thank Millard Fillmore for doing. Our study of history should inform us that it is, indeed, important for politicians to understand the importance of guano.

Fillmore knew his guano.

Take a moment on December 2 to toast Millard Fillmore’s prescience, on Guano Day!

More:  


Millard Fillmore and middle school: Enough for a sit-com set in Buffalo?

October 28, 2014

Buzz in Buffalo, New York, is that there may be a sit-com coming, set in Buffalo, about education — the kids and teachers at Millard Fillmore Middle School.

Potential cast for a potential sitcom situated in Millard Fillmore's hometown, Buffalo, New York

Potential cast for a potential sitcom situated in Millard Fillmore’s hometown, Buffalo, New York

Seriously?   A reporter for Buffalo Rising, Newell Nussbaumer, wrote:

Do you remember the last time that Buffalo had a sitcom “based” here? Do you recall what the name of the show was? It was Jesse – a show that ran for a couple of years (1998-1999). Since that time there has not been a show “set in” the city of Buffalo. But Jordan Imiola wants to change that. Jordan is currently a screenwriter in LA, who lives and breathes Buffalo, as does his girlfriend. They are huge Sabres and Bills backers, and do their part to expound Buffalo’s virtues whenever they are able. Sometimes they do that by frequenting Buffalo backers bars, and sometimes they simply wear it on their sleeves (both of them sport Buffalo tattoos).

Now Jordan wants to put Buffalo back on the map via a new sitcom that takes place in this city. “The new TV comedy is called “Get Educated.” It’s a Feel Good Comedy similar to “Modern Family” and “The Office,” but it takes place in Millard Fillmore Middle School. It focuses on teachers and students. Growing up, my Grandpa took me to Millard Fillmore’s Birthday Party every year at the Roycroft Inn in East Aurora so that’s what inspired the school name. Also, my mom, Uncle Dave, and Aunt Laurie taught in Western NY schools for years. My mom and Aunt were faculty members of the Cheektowaga-Sloan district where I went to school K – 10. And my Uncle Dave taught at the Stanley G. Falk School and now teaches in the city of Buffalo.”

This is the age of the internet:  You may contribute to the production of the series, at IndiGoGo.

At Buffalo Rising, one commenter paid homage to a teacher at the real Millard Fillmore Junior High School in Buffalo, years ago:

buffalorr10 hours ago
“Millard Fillmore Middle School”–It was named Millard Fillmore Jr. High when it opened in the early sixties. Located on Appenheimer St. off Fillmore Ave. next to the now demolished Kensington Heights projects. My Alma Mater class of ’66. There was an amazing teacher there, Mrs. Stallings, a black woman who for many of the white kids that lived in our all white neighborhood at the time, was the first contact we’d ever had with a person of color. She was so strict that no one dared not turn in their homework or disrupt the classroom. We all ended up with a 90 point or higher grade upon leaving her class along with the feeling that she was one of the best educators we’d ever had. I think that could be material for an interesting TV show.

Okay, I’d watch that.

(Hey, is there a photo of the old Millard Fillmore Jr. High on the internet?)


Millard Fillmore resources, from the Library of Congress

August 20, 2014

Found this wonderful page with a list of resources on Millard Fillmore, available on line from the Library of Congress.  The list was compiled by Library of Congress’s Virtual Services, Digital Reference Section.

Completely cribbed from that site:

Millard Fillmore: A Resource Guide

Millard Fillmore: whig candidate for Vice President of the United States
Millard Fillmore: whig candidate for Vice President of the United States.
1 print : lithograph.
New York : Published by N. Currier, c1848.
Prints & Photographs Division.
Reproduction Number:
LC-USZ62-7549

American Memory Historical Collections

Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress

The complete Abraham Lincoln Papers from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consist of approximately 20,000 documents. The Lincoln Papers contain more than fifty items to, from, or referring to Millard Fillmore. To find these documents, go to the collection’s search page, and search on the phrase Millard Fillmore (do not put quotation marks around the words).

Among the collection’s Fillmore-related materials are:

An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera

The Printed Ephemera collection comprises 28,000 primary source items dating from the seventeenth century to the present and encompasses key events and eras in American history. Search the bibliographic records and the full-text option to find items related to Millard Fillmore.

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875

This collection contains a large selection of congressional material related to Millard Fillmore’s political career as a member of the House of Representatives, vice president, and president. Search this collection by date and type of publication to find materials related to Fillmore.

From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection, 1824-1909

The collection consists of 397 pamphlets, published from 1824 through 1909, by African-American authors and others who wrote about slavery, African colonization, Emancipation, Reconstruction, and related topics, including two items that reference Millard Fillmore.

“I Do Solemnly Swear…”: Presidential Inaugurations

This collection contains approximately 400 items relating to presidential inaugurations, including a lithograph of Millard Fillmore from 1850.

Map Collections

The focus of Map Collections is Americana and the cartographic treasures of the Library of Congress. These images were created from maps and atlases selected from the collections of the Geography and Map Division. Millard Fillmore’s personal collection of printed and manuscript maps is represented by sixteen maps.

Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, 1820-1860 & 1870-1885

This collection contains more than 62,500 pieces of historical sheet music registered for copyright, including three songs related to Millard Fillmore.

The Nineteenth Century in Print: Periodicals

This collection presents twenty-three popular periodicals digitized by Cornell University Library and the Preservation Reformatting Division of the Library of Congress. Search the bibliographic records and the full-text options to find articles that discuss Millard Fillmore.

Among the collection’s Fillmore-related articles are:

Words and Deeds in American History: Selected Documents Celebrating the Manuscript Division’s First 100 Years

In honor of the Manuscript Division’s centennial, its staff selected approximately ninety representative documents spanning from the fifteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. The following items reference Millard Fillmore:

Happy researching! Teachers, be sure to make your students aware of these sites (I presume other presidents are covered, too).


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,610 other followers

%d bloggers like this: