5 Things You Didn't Know About Millard Fillmore

President Millard Fillmore died on March 8, 1874, in Buffalo, New York. Millard Fillmore is best known for assuming the presidency after the death of Zachary Taylor, becoming the 13th U.S. president. Here are five other things you didn't know about President Millard Fillmore...


He Managed to Stave off War but Wasn't Very Popular Because of It # Millard Fillmore supported the Fugitive Slave Act, much to the dismay of his party. Image credit: By Original daguerreotype:Mathew Brady After taking office when President Zachary Taylor died, Fillmore supported the Fugitive Slave Act, which called for runaway slaves in the North to be captured and returned to the South. While Fillmore had nothing to do with passing the act, he thought that, since it was approved when Taylor was in office, he (Fillmore) should continue to respect the act's approval. This actually managed to delay the Civil War for about a decade because his support placated the South to an extent. However, the North did not like him at all after this.

He Became Both a Teacher and a Lawyer Without Much Formal Schooling # Fillmore was a voracious learner and mainly self-taught. Photo credit: Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=98884. Fillmore has a reputation of being a terrible president, but it wasn't because of any perceived lack of intelligence. Fillmore did not have a lot of formal schooling -- only about six months' worth or so -- but he was a voracious learner and managed to become both a teacher and a lawyer before winning congressional spots and the vice presidential spot on Taylor's ticket. He was also keen on learning even after he became president, always carrying a dictionary around with him so he could learn new words.


Fillmore Was Not Elected President -- and He Lost Badly When He Tried Fillmore became president when Taylor died, which is sad but not strange. However, after his mediocre-at-best term, he wasn't nominated to run again in the next election. At the election after that, in 1855, he decided to run again as the candidate for the Know-Nothings, a party known mainly for its hatred of immigrants and Catholics. He won only one state -- Maryland -- and left politics permanently, although he did remain active in general public life in the North.

When You Rank Bad Presidents, Fillmore Is in the Bottom 10 -- but He's Nowhere Near the Worst Yeah, it's not a stretch to assume that Fillmore ranks among the worst presidents. He supported the Fugitive Slave Act, tried to run with a party that was not known for kindness, and generally didn't do a lot of memorably good things. However, he's not the worst, nor is he among the worst of the worst. A survey released in 2018 found Fillmore in the 38th spot, just above Warren G. Harding. The absolute worst? Spot 42 goes to William Henry Harrison, who served only one month before dying in office; Spot 43 goes to James Buchanan, who previously was the consistently worst president; and Spot 44 goes to Donald Trump, the first president to knock Buchanan up a notch in the rankings. Richard Nixon made it to Spot 33, by the way.

Somehow He (Through Commodore Matthew Perry) Managed to Get Japan to Open Up Something that usually doesn't come up quickly when you hear about Fillmore is the Treaty of Kanagawa. This was the first treaty to get Japan to open up its ports; it was negotiated by Commodore Matthew C. Perry and not Fillmore, but Fillmore was the one who sent Perry and who had the idea to try to get Japan to let American ships stop at its ports. Fillmore sent a letter along with Perry requesting a treaty, which the Japanese initially refused. However, Perry let them know that he'd leave -- but then come back with more ships, which the Japanese took as a potential threat of attack if they didn't negotiate. Upon Perry's return, negotiations began, leading to the treaty.