Friday, January 11, 2008

Millard Fillmore, Fulcrum of History

About a week a ago, in anticipation of Millard Fillmore’s birthday, I published a post discussing the crucial impact he had on securing the passage of the Compromise of 1850.

By coincidence I have just acquired Holman Hamilton’s recently republished
Prologue to Conflict: The Crisis & Compromise of 1850. In his introduction, Michael F. Holt succinctly restates how crucial a role Fillmore played. Holt comes pretty close to saying that that the Compromise would not have been achieved if Zachary Taylor had lived:
[P]erhaps because of his loyalty to Taylor and convictions about the superiority of Taylor’s approach, Hamilton unduly minimizes the pivotal role that the new president Millard Fillmore and his secretary of state Daniel Webster played in securing passage of the Compromise after Taylor’s death on July 9, 1850. Their intervention into the Senate debate with special messages on August 6 decisively shifted the legislative agenda from California statehood, which Douglas had hoped to take up first, to resolution of the Texas-New Mexico boundary dispute, thus greatly facilitating passage of the compromise measures. Both Fillmore and Webster, moreover, exerted great pressure on northern Whigs in the House to support the Compromise, and their pressure resulted in voting patterns that would have been impossible had President Taylor still been alive.


  1. The photograph - got details?

    That's Zachary Taylor, standing, and his cabinet, right? Is that Fillmore to Taylor's left?

    Who else? Who took the photo? When?

  2. Ed,

    You'll find the photo on the Wikipedia page for Zachary Taylor. Unfortunately, no Millard. The caption states:

    "President Taylor and his Cabinet, 1849 Daguerreotype by Matthew Brady
    From left to right: William B. Preston, Thomas Ewing, John M. Clayton, Zachary Taylor, William M. Meredith, George W. Crawford, Jacob Collamer and Reverdy Johnson, (1849)."


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