by Robert J. Rayback

ISBN 978-0-945707-04-2     $32.50

417 pages including bibliography, illustrations and index.

   For some reason hard to understand, the historically minded public has had to wait 85 years since the death of a president for an adequate biography.  This gap has now been filled with Dr. Rayback's authoritative work on MILLARD FILLMORE.  It is no eulogy, rather it is honest and unprejudiced, describing and assaying his defects of judgment such as his leadership of two absurd parties at the beginning and at the end of his political career, but asserting that all this ... even his approval of the fugitive slave law ... was far outweighed by his moral convictions and concrete actions against the institution of human slavery.  To Western New Yorkers this book will of course have special appeal, but it is by no means unduly concerned with local history; it is the story of a life not only of dignity and integrity but of permanent achievement on both the local and national scene. 
   "This is a curious and complicated story well told.  It is a "portrait"' not a comprehensive "life and times".  It is based largely on the manuscript riches concentrated in central and western New York.  The notes, however, carry no references to certain of the other manuscript collections of Whigs, some of whom were closely associated with Fillmore.  Furthermore, the author has combined with his excellent analysis the burden of defense and justification.  There appears to be a tendency to make Fillmore and Weed appear as champions of good and evil.  The fact probably is that they were both playing the same game, only Weed was better at it.  The book fills a gap which has long needed filling, and the author is to be complemented for assuming a difficult responsibility.  From Roy F. Nichols, AMERICAN HISTORY REVIEW, October, 1959.

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