Cake’s Presidential Quickies: Millard Fillmore

Today’s featured Chief is Millard Fillmore, the 13th President of the United States. Fillmore was a congressman from New York State when he was chosen to be Zachary Taylor’s running mate.

Fillmore was chosen because he had actual positions on issues, which distinguished him from Taylor, who had no public positions on anything.

But Taylor was by God the hero of the Mexican War and had a cool nickname (“Old Rough and Ready”), which in those days was enough to get you elected president.

This is different from today, when being a third-rate reality TV star and a failed real-estate developer is enough to get you elected President.

Anyway, Taylor died sixteen months into his term (supposedly of cholera, but Ye Olde Infowars has claimed for the last 170 years that he was poisoned) and Fillmore ascended to the presidency, ushering in the age of Presidents with Stupid First Names (he was followed by Abraham, Ulysses, Rutherford and Grover).

Fillmore actually wasn’t a bad president; he signed the Compromise of 1850, which delayed the Civil War by ten years, and signed several bills to improve rail and water transport throughout the nation.

One thing he did NOT do, though, was install a bathtub in the White House. That story is a hoax. Presidents DID bathe before (and after, presumably) Fillmore.

Fillmore’s biggest historical distinction is that he was the last President who was not either a Democrat or a Republican; he was a Whig.

Whigs were kind of the progressives of their day — big-government types — favoring federal construction of roads and canals and such. They were quite popular in the first half of the 19th century, electing three Presidents. You hardly see them around anymore, though.

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