Millard Fillmore, a successful Whig politician from New York State and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, became the 12th vice president and 13th president of the United States. Born in Locke (now Summerhill), New York, Fillmore was assisted in his early political career by Thurlow Weed, a Whig strategist and political leader in New York. Fillmore served in the U.S. House of Representatives during the years 1833 to 1835 and 1837 to 1843. As chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, Fillmore was active in framing the protective Tariff of 1842. He ran successfully as the Whig candidate for vice president in 1848 with Zachary Taylor. As president of the Senate, Fillmore presided over the debates on the Compromise of 1850, a series of measures introduced by Henry Clay to address slavery and territorial issues.
On July 9, 1850, President Taylor died from what his doctors diagnosed as "cholera morbus." A day later, Fillmore was sworn in as president of the United States. In his attempt to achieve legislative closure on the Compromise of 1850, Fillmore signed the Fugitive Slave Act, a part of the compromise developed by Clay. Shortly thereafter, the president approved a $100,000 appropriation for the enlargement of the Capitol, considered a necessity due to space limitations. Fillmore was responsible for selecting the manner by which the Capitol would be extended–-approving the design for large north and south wings–-and choosing the architect, Thomas U. Walter. He also laid the cornerstone for the extension on July 4, 1851.
Fillmore failed to win the Whig presidential nomination in 1852 and four years later ran as an unsuccessful presidential candidate of the American, or Know-Nothing, Party. Fillmore retired to Buffalo, New York, where he became the first president of the Buffalo Historical Society and the first chancellor of the University of Buffalo, a post he held until his death in 1874.