Knowing the Presidents: MIllard Fillmore

Millard Fillmore

Thirteenth President, 1850-1853


A powerful congressman from New York, Millard Fillmore was Zachary Taylor’s vice president and ascended to the presidency upon Taylor’s death.


Millard Fillmore inherited the uncompleted legislation known as the Compromise of 1850, a senatorial initiative to reconcile the competing issues involved in organizing the territories acquired in the victory over Mexico as well as related issues of slavery.

Fillmore, in extending his patronage, replaced Zachary Taylor supporters with his own supporters, alienating a substantial faction of his party. This caused him to be denied re-nomination by the Whigs.

Major Acts:

Millard Fillmore signed the Compromise of 1850, which delayed the Civil War for a decade.

The Compromise outlined that California would enter the Union as a free state; in exchange, the South was guaranteed that no federal restrictions on slavery would be placed on Utah Territory or New Mexico. Though New Mexico territory remained separate from Texas, Congress compensated Texas with $10 million.

One part of the Compromise, the Fugitive Slave Act, required northerners to return runaway slaves under penalty of law; meanwhile, the slave trade in Washington, D.C. was abolished.


Millard Fillmore’s presidency stalled disunion, but because he did not use the power of his office, he resolved no major issues.