President Millard Fillmore


Millard Fillmore (1800‒74) was the 13th president of the United States. The son of a poor tenant farmer from western New York, Fillmore received only a very limited education. After being apprenticed to a clothier, he read law with a local judge and was admitted to the New York state bar in 1823. A member of the Whig Party, he served three terms in the New York state legislature and four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before being chosen as the vice-presidential running mate of Zachary Taylor in the election of 1848. He succeeded to the presidency upon Taylor’s death in July 1850. The major achievement of Fillmore’s presidency was the Compromise of 1850, worked out by Whig Party leader Henry Clay, which helped to avoid civil war for another decade. He also dispatched Commodore Matthew C. Perry on his famous mission to open Japan to trade with the West. The image is from an album of mostly Civil War-era portraits by the famous American photographer Matthew Brady (circa 1823‒96) that belonged to Emperor Pedro II of Brazil (1825‒91), a collector of photography as well as a photographer himself. The album was a gift to the emperor from Edward Anthony (1818‒88), another early American photographer who, in partnership with his brother, owned a company that in the 1850s became the leading seller of photographic supplies in the United States. Dom Pedro may have acquired the album during a trip to the United States in 1876 when he, along with President Ulysses S. Grant, opened the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Brady was born in upstate New York, the son of immigrants from Ireland. Best known for his photographs documenting the battles of the American Civil War, he began his career in 1844 when he opened a daguerreotype portrait studio at the corner of Broadway and Fulton Streets in New York City. Over the course of the next several decades, Brady produced portraits of leading American public figures, many of which were published as engravings in magazines and newspapers. In 1858 he opened a branch in Washington, DC. The album, which also contains a small number of non-photographic prints, is part of the Thereza Christina Maria Collection at the National Library of Brazil. The collection is composed of 21,742 photos assembled by Emperor Pedro II throughout his life and donated by him to the national library. The collection covers a wide variety of subjects. It documents the achievements of Brazil and Brazilians in the 19th century and also includes many photographs of Europe, Africa, and North America.

Last updated: March 22, 2016