Friday, 9 July 2021

old rough and ready

Zachary Taylor having finally expired after an excruciating bout of indigestion from an ill-advised repast of milk and cherries on the during an especially hot Independence Day celebration, his vice president Millard Fillmore, once a contender for the distinction of being the worst ever to hold high office, Whig and backed by the nativist Know Nothing Party, but still a solid runner-up, assumed the presidency on this day in 1850.

Immediately dismissing the cabinet of predecessor, whom largely ignored Fillmore and held little ideology in common, to lobby congress for the passage of the package of bills known as the Compromise of 1850, which was seen as a concession to slave-states and enforced the law that would return fugitive enslaved people to those who claimed ownership of them anywhere within American borders. This appeasement postponed the outbreak of civil war and established the expectation of even-handed enfranchisement that continues to characterise American politics. Moreover, Fillmore was the architect for foisting trade on Japan and forcing them to open relations with the outside world and the overthrow and eventual annexation of Hawaii.