Millard Fillmore has been mocked, maligned, or, most cruelly of all, ignored by generations of historians--but no more! This unbelievable new biography finally rescues the unlucky thirteenth U.S. president from the dustbin of history and shows why a man known as a blundering, arrogant, shallow, miserable failure was really our greatest leader.
In the first fully researched portrait of Fillmore ever written, the reader can finally come face-to-face with a misunderstood genius. By meticulously extrapolating outrageous conclusions from the most banal and inconclusive of facts, The Remarkable Millard Fillmore reveals the adventures of an unjustly forgotten president. He fought at the Battle of the Alamo! He shepherded slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad! He discovered gold in California! He wrestled with the emperor of Japan! It is a list of achievements that puts those of Washington and Lincoln completely in the shade.
Refusing to be held back by established history or recorded fact, here George Pendle paints an extraordinary portrait of an ordinary man and restores the sparkle to an unfairly tarnished reputation.
America's 13th president has often been the subject of humor, and this bogus biography by Pendle (Strange Angels: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons) is no exception. Fillmore was not a "blundering, pompous, ultimately shallow failure," claims Pendle. Instead, we learn that the multitalented Fillmore had a rich and varied life, at once heroic, artistic and full of intellectual vigor. He saved a woman from a shark attack and received good reviews for his minstrel show performance: "he had the audience guffawing mightily." A prolific inventor, he never received proper credit for vulcanizing rubber or designing the cooling "Tea-shirt." Like Woody Allen's Zelig, Fillmore had a knack for always being present at major historical events, where he usually emerged triumphant (as when he prevented the assassination of Andrew Jackson and survived the Battle of the Alamo. Using previously unknown sources, Pendle has achieved his goal "to redeem the reputation of a forgotten giant," and he also succeeds in amusing readers by mixing the historical and the hysterical. 40 b&w illus. (Apr.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
April 08, 2007
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from The Remarkable Millard Fillmore by George Pendle
I, Fillmore (1800-1819)
A Noble Birth--The Family Tree--Piratical Melancholia--Edible Pants--The Forbidden Excitements of the Frontier--The Disease of Education--Signs of Presidential Fortitude
"I was born," the first page of Fillmore's first journal reads, "on the snowy night of the seventh day of January, 1800." The second child and eldest son in a family of nine, Fillmore would later recount that his birth was not "marked by any striking signs in the heavens above or the earth beneath calculated to alarm the superstitious fears of the scattered inhabitants of that howling wilderness." Nevertheless, Johann Wilson, a neighbor of the family, chose the night of Fillmore's birth to be convinced that men from the "outer depths of the sky" had come to "vanish me away," and threw himself under his own plow.
Fillmore's mother and father were simple dirt farmers, poor beyond their wildest dreams, and it showed in the naming of their son.Millard was his mother's unused maiden name, and such was their poverty that they could not afford to bestow upon their eldest son a middle name (unlike the wealthy family of Thomas Jebediah Birchard Gamaliel Redondo Jefferson). Too honest to steal even a letter, as future president Harry S. Truman would do years later, their son would become known to the world simply as Millard Fillmore.
Fillmore would fondly remember his birthplace as being "completely shut out from all the enterprises of civilization and advancement." The typical pioneer could often be seen clad in simple bearskin and deerhide, with leather jerkin, cowhide boots, britches made of guts, ties woven of pig hair, and carved wooden hats. Hairstyles were plain, manners unvarnished, and entertainments spare. It was all in sharp contrast to the conspicuous wealth on show in the cities of the East Coast, where styles aped those of a decadent Europe. While young Fillmore's curly blond tresses were waxed down with wolverine fat, the "pussy-top" hairstyle, popularized by Marie Antoinette and involving the careful application of a dead cat to the crown of the head, was the most fashionable cut of the day in more elevated circles.
The inhabitants of the frontier may have lacked social graces, but they made up for it in robustness. In this landscape young children swiftly became excellent hunters and expert shots. Alas, Fillmore's family was too poor to provide him with a gun, and even when he was gifted with an old musket by a neighbor, his natural timidity saw him spend much of his youth using it to measure mud holes, "to ascertain how their width compares with their length and whether their sides are perpendicular." Thus firearms nurtured in him a gentle, contemplative side and spawned in him a lifelong love of bogs. But while the young Millard may not have been gifted with the certitude of aristocratic inbreeding and massive wealth, as most presidents are, he was bequeathed an even more important legacy--a thick adventurous streak.
It was Millard Fillmore's great-grandfather who had first displayed a tendency for outrageous happenstance. The extraordinary tale of John Fillmore, "a good, stout, resolute fellow," began in 1723, when at the age of twenty-one he heard the irresistible call of the sea. Signing on to work aboard the fishing sloop the Dolphin, he had barely left port when his boat was captured by the feared pirate Captain John Phillips, and John Fillmore was pressed into joining his crew.
Upon starting his new life as a scourge of the seas, Fillmore found that Phillip's boat, the Revenge, was not a happy vessel, for its captain was a fiercely depressed man. On his good days, Phillips could be found with a maniacal gleam in his eye, bellowing at his terrified crew to "splice the main brace" and "make fast the bunt gasket."