Harry S. Truman “characterized Fillmore as a weak, trivial thumb-twaddler who would do nothing to offend anyone".
But is such a statement justified?
Robert J. Rayback in this fascinating biography re-evaluates the career and presidency of Millard Fillmore.
Rather than viewing him as a leader who only had two and a half years in office to implement his policies, he places Fillmore within the tumultuous political context of the 1840s and 1850s.
While the United States was gripped by division Fillmore worked tirelessly through his years, both before and after his presidency, to keep the Union together and his people united.
Rayback’s work provides brilliant insight into how the American political party system was developing through the nineteenth century and how it was becoming increasingly likely through Fillmore’s career that the country was developing into a two-party system.
Drawing his evidence from a variety of sources but particularly from a collection of 8,500 pieces of correspondence between Fillmore and his friends and rivals allows Rayback to fully uncover the mindset of the political leaders of the mid-nineteenth century.
“It is the story of a life not only of dignity and integrity but of permanent achievement on both the local and national scene. … This is a curious and complicated story well told.” American History Review
Robert J. Rayback was a professor of history at Syracuse University who died in 1996. Millard Fillmore: Biography of a President was first published in 1959.
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