Millard Fillmore: The 13th Retrospective
“Whatcha got ain’t nothin new. This country’s hard on people, you can’t stop what’s coming, it ain’t all waiting on you. That’s vanity.” – Ellis, No Country for Old Men (2007)
Millard Fillmore did not meet Zachary Taylor until after they were elected as he was picked to balance the ticket geographically and politically. Fillmore was a northern, hands off manager who believed in compromise. He often deferred to congressional leadership.
It’s A New Day
After being ignored by them, Fillmore fired all of Taylor’s cabinet. Subsequently, he reversed Taylor and signed the Compromise of 1850 into law.
Fillmore, unlike Taylor, supported slavery because he felt that abolition would lead to a collapse of the Southern economy. Sixty percent of American exports came out of the cotton states by 1860. Abolishing slavery would have been abolishing an entire economic system.
Fillmore also thought slavery was protected by the Constitution and the Compromise of 1850 would put the issue to rest forever. He failed to grasp the moral consequences of trying to satisfy both sides of the slavery debate. Fillmore blamed abolitionists for making slavery an issue as he thought they were troublemakers and fanatics. He was content with the compromise because it would preserve the status quo; however, for many people on both sides of the issue, it only served to strengthen their resolve for or against slavery. While trying to please everyone, Fillmore pleased no one including members of his own party who did not renominate him for the election of 1852.
Here we see that both sides can not be appeased when it comes to a so called moral issue. Leaving the states to decide on their own only emboldens opponents and supporters of said issue. Citizens on both sides of said moral issue are not content to just “live and let live”. We will see this with several so called “moral issues” (prohibition, segregation, abortion, gay marriage) as we go forward. The bitching reaches a fever pitch, and then a cathartic event legislatively, militarily, or socially settles the matter amongst the citizenry.
Franklin Pierce would follow Millard Fillmore
Zachary Taylor preceded Millard Fillmore.
It all started with George Washington.