Thirteen apparently wasn’t Millard Fillmore’s magic number. And the presidency clearly wasn’t the job for which he was best suited. So when he became the nation’s thirteenth chief executive (following Zachary Taylor’s death) he must have swallowed hard and wondered what exactly he had gotten himself into.
He hadn’t expected to serve as president, of course. He was nominated as the Whig Party vice presidential nominee partly in an attempt to bring geographic balance to the ticket. In those days, serving as vice president was basically an honorific office – and form of political purgatory. Seldom did it require a sophisticated skill set or broad base of political support.
But Fillmore, who seemed to make a fairly effective local and state politician, was not designed for this type of national office. And given the political and social challenges of the United States, the 1850s was clearly not the right time…
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