Milliard Fillmore

Paul Finkelman. Times, $23 (192p) ISBN 978-0-8050-8715-4
In this latest addition to the American Presidents series, Finkelman (Dred Scott v. Sanford), a professor at Albany Law School, describes Millard Fillmore's nearly forgotten presidency by rigidly contrasting him with Abraham Lincoln, another self-made man who wrestled with racial and regional tensions as president. Succeeding Zachary Taylor after his death in office in 1850, Fillmore sought to win a presidential election on his own merit. This led the New York native to try to placate the Southern states by implementing the Fugitive Slave Act, a nightmare for free blacks in the Northern states. Oddly, Finkelman fails to draw on evidence of nuance in Fillmore's and Lincoln's positions, instead using blanket statements to describe their political views. Finkelman's Fillmore remains elusive without complex discussions of his evolution during and after his presidency, and focuses primarily on slavery, the major issue Fillmore faced but hardly the only one. The accidental president's achievements in opening diplomatic efforts with Japan and his focus on economic issues (such as the creation of the San Francisco mint) garner little attention as Fillmore's presidency ushers in the inevitable war between the states. This book is an enlightening view into the often overlooked beginnings of the Civil War, which history buffs and students alike will find enjoyable. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/02/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 192 pages - 978-1-4299-2301-9
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