Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Millard Fillmore, Governor of New York?

I’ve noticed what I think are two minor but disconcerting mistakes in Jonathan H. Earle’s Democratic Antislavery.

First, Professor Earles states that “Preston King kept his promise to reintroduce the [Wilmot] proviso on the first day of the new congressional session [in December 1846].”

My review of the Congressional Globe, discussed two posts ago, indicates, however, that King did not attempt to introduce his bill containing Proviso language until December 29, 1846, which was not the first day of the session. Perhaps Professor Earle meant to say “the first month of the session”?

Second, Professor Earle states:
The immediate effect of the Barnburner revolt was a humiliating Democratic defeat in the 1847 election. Majorities for Whig gubernatorial candidate Millard Fillmore numbered more than 38,000, making 1847 the high-water mark of Whig power in the state.

Unfortunately, Millard Fillmore did not run for governor of New York in 1847. In fact, no one did. Elections for governor – a two year term – were then held in the autumn of even years, with the governor taking office the following January. John Young had been elected governor in the fall of 1846 and assumed office in January 1847. The next gubernatorial election would not be held until the fall of 1848.

Millard Fillmore did run for state office in the autumn of 1847. But he ran for and was elected to the office of Comptroller. The Comptroller's office was the most important position contested that year, so he in effect headed the Whig ticket. Professor East must have momentarily forgotten that the head of the ticket was not running for governor.

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