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  Abigail Fillmore

by John T. Marck

First Lady: 1850 to 1853

Wife of President Millard Fillmore

Born: March 13, 1798 Died: March 30, 1853

Abigail Powers was born in Stillwater, New York, the daughter of Abigail Newland and Lemuel Powers. Her father was a Baptist minister, who died when she was very young. Abigail grew up with a respect for books and education, but did not have the opportunity to have much to do with either. She was twenty-one when she entered an academy school, which was located in a village close to her home. Millard Fillmore was working there as a millhand, and it was here that they met. As time went on Abigail and Millard developed a mutual need for each other, one that lasted the remainder of their lives. After waiting six years while Millard studied and practiced law, they finally married on February 5, 1826 in Moravia, New York.

Millard Fillmore advanced quickly in politics, being elected to Congress in 1831, and Vice President in 1848, and succeeded to the Presidency upon the death of Zachary Taylor in 1850. Throughout this progression, Abigail remained unpretentious, preferring a simple life. She convinced Millard to purchase a small house in Buffalo, New York. By this time they had two children, Millard Powers and Mary Abigail.

As mistress of the White House, Abigail carried out her official duties with care, providing comfort and enjoyment to their guests. She did not however participate in Washington social affairs, but rather like her predecessor, enjoyed private parties, and when asked to attend a social affair would give the excuse of delicate health.

On the day of her husband's Presidential term expiring, during the inauguration of President Pierce, Abigail sat with other government officials on the wet, snow-covered Capital steps, and caught a severe cold, which developed into pneumonia. She died on March 30, 1853. Millard Fillmore remarried on February 10, 1858 to Caroline Carmichael McIntosh, a wealthy widow, spending the remainder of his life in a large mansion, in Buffalo, New York.

Copyright 1990-2022 by  John T. Marck. All Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures, photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author. From The First Ladies of the Unites States by John T. Marck.