The popular hero of the Mexican-American War, Zachary Taylor, died on July 9. For the second time, a vice president was sworn in to replace the elected president.
Millard Fillmore was that vice president.
Fillmore ended the run of presidents by Whig Party members, the last Whig. He served out the term of Taylor, but despite trying, never succeeded in winning election on his own.
Most people including historians know little about Fillmore, except his unsavory role in signing the Fugitive Slave Act, and thereby pushing the nation closer to civil war. The hoax on Fillmore’s allegedly introducing a plumbed bathtub to the White House, by H. L. Mencken in 1917, stained Fillmore’s reputation and chased out most information about good things he had done, such as opening Japan to trade.
There are morals about hoaxes and fake news in Fillmore’s story. Those morals are much lost to history now.
- A longer article on Fillmore’s accession to the presidency from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub
- Compilation of sources on Millard Fillmore’s life
- 100th anniversary of Mencken’s hoax on Millard Fillmore and the bathtub
- Is Donald Trump really a reincarnation of Millard Fillmore? The BBC story
- Millard Fillmore’s Guano Day speech, December 2
- Millard Fillmore and Commodore Matthew Perry’s mission to open Japan