POTUS Fact 13: First President born after the death of an ex-President

The thirteenth President of America, Millard Fillmore (January 7, 1800 – March 8, 1874), was the first President to be born in the 1800s, first to have running water in the White House and the last Whig to occupy the White House.

Millard Fillmore was born in a log cabin in New York. He received little formal education and he apprenticed to a wool carder as a teenager before switching to work in a law office. At 23, he was admitted to the New York bar.

Image of Millard Fillmore
Millard Fillmore (1800 – 1874), 13th President of the United States (July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853)/ThoughtCo.

He was also the first President to have been born after the death of a former President (George Washington, who died in 1799).

He was born into desperate and abject poverty and he was apprenticed to a cloth maker, but he rose to occupy the highest office in the land.

Fillmore entered politics in 1828 as a member of the Anti-Masonic Party but later joined the Whig Party in 1834.

In the 1848 Whig Convention, Fillmore was chosen as running mate to the Mexican War hero, Zachary Taylor. As a Northerner from New York, Fillmore served to balance the Whig ticket as Taylor was a Southerner from Louisiana.

Fillmore was a biblophile and he always carried his dictionary about to improve on his vocabulary. He and his wife, Abigail, set up the White House library.

Zachary Taylor and Milliard Fillmore won a bitterly fought election but the two did not even meet until after the election, and, when they did finally meet, they didn’t hit it off well. As a result, Fillmore was sidelined as Vice President from any major role and relegated to being President of the Senate (the Constitution designates the vice president as the Senate’s presiding officer).

However, President Taylor died just 16 months into his tenure and the sudden accession of Fillmore to the Presidency in July 1850 resulted into a political shift in the administration.

He was the second Vice President after John Tyler to succeed the Presidency after the death of President Taylor. He was sworn in by Chief Judge William Cranch, the same man who had sworn in Tyler, nine years before.

After being sworn in as President, all of Taylor’s Cabinet resigned. Thus, Fillmore remains the only president who succeeded by death or resignation not to retain, at least initially, his predecessor’s cabinet.

Fillmore married his schoolteacher, Abigail Powers (1798 – 1853), who bore him a boy and a girl. She died 26 days after leaving the White House, the shortest post-retirement of any First Lady in history.

Fillmore was a biblophile and he always carried his dictionary about to improve on his vocabulary. He and his wife, Abigail, set up the White House library.

President Millard Fillmore had two nicknames; the “American Louis Philippe” which referred to the elegant clothes worn by Louis Philippe, King of France (1830 – 1848) and “Wool Carder” referred to one of his earlier jobs in a wool factory.

The famous anti-slavery book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe was published in 1852 during the presidency of Millard Fillmore. The characters featured in Uncle Tom’s Cabin personalized the political and economic arguments about slavery.

Although Fillmore was complete anti-slavery he was aware of the fact that he could not eradicate it and so his next best option was to protect the slaves as best he could by the Constitution when he signed and enforced the Fugitive Slave Act of 1851.

Abigail Powers Fillmore (1798 – 1853), First Lady of the United States (July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853)/Biography.

Fillmore was the first president to return to private life without being independently wealthy or in possession of a landed estate, and, with no pension to anticipate, was unsure how he would make a living consistent with the dignity of his former office.

Fillmore’s father, Nathaniel, was the first father of a president to visit his son at the White House and the first to live throughout his presidency.

Fillmore was the second of the five “Accidental” American Presidents (presidents that were never elected to the office). The other four were John Tyler (1841-1845), Andrew Johnson (1865-1869), Chester A. Arthur (1881-1885) and Gerald Ford (1974-1977).

Fillmore made no Inaugural Address and he had no Vice President.

Millard Fillmore is the only president who has the same double letters (l) in his first and last names. William Henry Harrison has doubles letters in his first and last name too but they are not the same (l and r).

In the 1856 general election, as a candidate of the Know-Nothing Party (an anti-immigrant and an anti-Catholic Party), Fillmore became the first former president to receive electoral votes, as he was emulated by Grover Cleveland (1892) and Theodore Roosevelt (1912).

“May God save the country, for it is evident that the people will not.” – Millard Fillmore (1800 – 1874), 13th President of the United States (July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853).

In 1856, Fillmore was offered a honourary Doctor of Civil Law (D.C.L.) degree by the University of Oxford, England. But he turned down the honour, explaining that he had neither the “literary nor scientific attainment” to justify the degree and because he could not understand the Latin text of the diploma, adding that “no man should accept a degree he cannot read.”

On February 10, 1858, Fillmore married Caroline Carmichael McIntosh, a wealthy widow and their combined wealth allowed them to purchase a large house on Niagara Square in Buffalo, where they lived for the rest of Millard Fillmore’s life.

Fillmore was one of seven Presidents to remarry. The other six were: John Tyler, Benjamin Harrison, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan, and Donald Trump. Tyler, Harrison, Roosevelt, Wilson, and Fillmore wives had died and they remarried after those deaths. Reagan and Trump were both divorced.

Fillmore was in good health almost to the end of his life, but he suffered a stroke in February 1874, and died of cerebral hemorrhage on March 8. Two days later, he was buried in Buffalo after a funeral procession of hundreds of dignitaries.

Millard Fillmore is one of fourteen Presidents to be born, die and be buried in the same state. The other thirteen Presidents to be born, die and be buried in the same state are: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Rutherford B. Hayes, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Lyndon Johnson.

He is quoted as saying “It is better to wear out than rust out.”





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Ayomide Akinbode

Ayomide Akinbode holds a degree in Chemistry but has a passion for History and Classics. When he is not writing, he’s either sleeping or playing Scrabble.

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