Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Millard Fillmore Is Unfairly Dissed

At Volokh, Ilya Somin -- whom I otherwise respect -- disses poor Millard Fillmore (emphasis added):
Several times in our history, this has led to disaster when a dubious Veep ended up taking the presidency after the president died. The most blatant example was when Andrew Johnson assumed the presidency . . .. Had [Lincoln] stuck with incumbent VP Hannibal Hamlin (a Maine Radical Republican), history might well have turned out a lot better than it did. I would argue that the succession of VPs Millard Fillmore (1850), John Tyler (1841), Chester Arthur (1881) and Lyndon Johnson (1963) also caused significant harm, though these cases are more debatable than Andrew Johnson.

As to Millard, this is nonsense. As I have explained -- particularly here -- Fillmore's accession to the vice presidency after Zachary Taylor's death was almost certainly a large net plus to the country. Taylor was a fine man and an outstanding general, but the country was probably lucky that he died in mid-1850.


  1. Anonymous9:57 AM

    I'd say the greater insult was to Andrew Johnson. decon

  2. I disagree with you on Fillmore/Taylor. Old Rough & Ready had the potential to be a second Andrew Jackson, at least where it really counted: facing down the nullifiers.

  3. Prof.,

    I don't doubt that Zach had the will. But if the Texas-New Mexico border had erupted, and the lower South had sided with Texas, I do doubt that the country would have been ideologically or technologically prepared to defeat the south. In essence, I think it's a good thing that the War was delayed for 10-11 years.


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