All About Our Minor U.S. Presidents: Millard Fillmore
Why let Lincoln and Kennedy get all the glory, when we have a load of presidential mediocrity to explore.

Dan Van Oss Biographies, Complete Columns, History 0 Comments

Unless you’re an American History professor in a small liberal arts college in the Midwest who wears those corduroy jackets with the patches on the elbows and smokes a pipe and drives a vintage VW bug with a fading flower power sticker still on it, you probably think that’s what all American History professors are like. Well, that’s why they’re not going to help you appreciate the unsung heroes of the presidential seal; the non-Lincolns and un-Roosevelts and others who aren’t famous just because they didn’t have the luck to be serving during a war or something. But don’t worry, we’re here to pick up the slack.

This time: Millard Fillmore

Fillmore was also the last Whig president, meaning he was probably bald but too embarrassed to show it in public.
Aside from the fact he had one of those 19th-century names for which you get you beat up at recess (Grover, Chester, Rutherford, etc.) Millard Fillmore was probably not such a bad guy. He was our 13th president, starting in 1850, and one of the few who took office because of the death of his predecessor, although we suspect it may have been like that movie “Dave”, except Millard Fillmore was played by himself instead of Kevin Kline, and he didn’t get to kiss Sigourney Weaver. Fillmore was also the last Whig president, meaning he was probably bald but too embarrassed to show it in public. He is consistently listed as one of the bottom 10 presidents, although we’re not sure why, as the list also includes his running mate Zachary Taylor, who was great as two of the kids in Home Improvement.

Log cabins and Big Mama Cass

Fillmore, like most presidents should be, was born in a log cabin, his being located in New York. His parents were also named Fillmore, in particular, Nathaniel and Phoebe, and raised him to believe that someday, like any American child, he could grow up to use an indoor toilet. He began his career in Buffalo (Official Motto: “We Gave You The Wings! (But Sorry About All The Snow)”, where he rose through the political ranks as a lawyer, a representative, and something called a “comptroller”, which is obviously a misspelling — thanks, Wikipedia. He entered politics in 1828 as a member of the Anti-Masonic Party, whose main goal was to eradicate the use of red fezzes and those tiny motor scooters. He joined Zachary Taylor as his running mate in the Presidential election of 1850 (Official Motto: Yes! We Don’t Have To Wear Whigs No More!”). The Taylor-Fillmore ticket won, defeating Democrats Lewis “Big Mama” Cass and William Orlando “Bloom” Butler. A third party, the Free Soil party, took only 10% of the vote, possibly because they didn’t realize that there was an awful lot of soil in the country, and most of it was already incredibly free.

Dissed by the Whig party

When Taylor died suddenly in 1850, Fillmore took over as President, whereby his entire cabinet quit, mostly because they were tired of being called a “cabinet”. His new cabinet included Daniel Webster, inventor on the online dictionary, and his main focus during his presidency became how to keep the country united during a time of debate over slavery, which turned out to be pretty much impossible. At the end of his term, Fillmore was dissed by the Whig Party by not being chosen as their candidate for President in 1854, but, not knowing what the word “dissed” meant at the time, it didn’t really bother him too much. After the Whig Party broke up in 1856 because of “creative differences”, Fillmore joined the American Party as their bass player and made an unsuccessful Presidential bid in 1856, coming in third behind a guy who could play drums with his knees and a waltzing baby kangaroo. Deciding to retire from politics, he returned to Buffalo to enjoy some wings and wait for football to be invented so he could watch the Bills play on a big screen TV at Applebees, but, alas he died before any of those things could be invented, which is probably fortunate.

Although his historical reputation as a President is mediocre, Fillmore will always be remembered as that one guy who was President after that other guy, and before the other guy I can’t remember either, but definitely before Lincoln, I’m pretty sure. And so we salute you, Millard, even though we’re not wearing a corduroy jacket with patches on the sleeves.

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