So I told you guys last month that Zachary Taylor was actually pretty sweet for how unknown he is and the length of his presidency (only about 18 months). The biography that I read talked about how had he lived, the civil war may had been totally avoided. The weird part? His vice president, Millard Fillmore, was his polar opposite. They didn’t meet each other until inauguration and even then never became close. After Zachary Taylor died, Millard Fillmore immediately (like within days) fired his whole cabinet without having replacements and just… did his own thing entirely.
Dude hated blacks, Jews, Catholics, Masons… and made laws/decisions based on all of this. It was kind of a wreck. Any advancement toward a compromise that Zachary Taylor had made, Millard Fillmore set back years and years. Totally wild. I know that Pierce and Buchanan are often sited more for escalating things leading up to the civil war, but I think that there is a strong, strong argument for Millard Fillmore getting that ball rolling, especially when he approved the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. I shudder just thinking about it.
So that’s that. He finished up Zachary Taylor’s term then ran a couple more times unsuccessfully then pretty much faded into obscurity.
I really did like learning a little bit about Millard Fillmore, only because I knew literally NOTHING about him before…. but, guys? Not the best biography. There were a lot of actual writing problems (sentence structure, SERIOUS repetition of whole phrases), but the real issue was that this guy, Paul Finkelman, straight up hated Millard Fillmore. He did not say one single positive, nice thing about him. Ever. He talked VERY little about his regular life (as in… I had to look on Wikipedia to find out that he had two children) and nothing about decisions that he made as president that did actually have positive results. The only thing he talked about was the slavery issues. Doing a bit of research myself online after finishing the book, I realized that there were a few other things that he had his hand in that turned out well in the end. After reading a biography, I probably shouldn’t have to Google/Wikipedia the subject, right? Right.
The thing is, I knew when I bought this book that it had low reviews. There are only a handful (like 3 or 4) biographies on Millard Fillmore- he’s one of those overlooked guys- and some had higher ratings, but they all cost OVER THRITY DOLLARS. Was I about to shell that out on an unknown? Never. This one was cheaper (but still like sixteen bucks!) so I went with that one. So. This isn’t a glowing review, but for like half the price, I honestly was pretty happy with what I ended up with.