Millard Fillmore

Millard Fillmore Signed Religious Book

Millard Fillmore Signed Wife's Book of Poems - Rare


A book of eighteenth-century didactic religious poetry signed by 13th U.S. President Millard Fillmore (1800-1874) in the name of his second wife Caroline C. Fillmore (1813-1881). Pencil signed as "Mrs C.C. Fillmore" at the top of the title page. Feathered hard covers, red morocco gilt-embossed spine, and laid paper. Expected surface wear to the covers and isolated loss. Overall toning and scattered minor to moderate foxing within. Else near fine. 8vo. 5.125" x 8.125" x .5". 129pp. Deaccessioned from the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Library, the institution founded by Millard and Abigail Fillmore.


Caroline Fillmore's copy of Elijah Fitch's The Beauties of Religion. A Poem. Addressed to Youth. In Five Books was originally published in Providence, Rhode Island in 1789. The book, a series of epic poems meditating on Christianity, was written by Elijah Fitch (1745-1788), a Yale graduate and Congregationalist minister at Hopkinton, Massachusetts.


In the book's preface, Fitch wrote: "The design of these Essays is to paint Religion in her native beauties. They are principally intended for youth, to give them just views of Religion, and to persuade them to love and practise it."


A representative poetic verse, from Book V: Soliloquy of a Believer:


"The soul in pleasing solemn acts of praise

Joins then with angels, tho' in lower strains;

Holds sweet communion with the Lord of Heaven,

The glorious perfections of her God…" (p. 119).


Caroline married ex-President Millard Fillmore in 1858 in Albany; it was a second marriage for both. He had been out of the White House for five years, and had been widowed the same length of time (first wife Abigail Powers Fillmore had died just three weeks after Fillmore's presidential term ended.) Caroline had previously been married to an affluent Troy, New York businessman and railroad executive named Ezekiel C. McIntosh, who died in 1855. The newly married Fillmores signed a pre-nuptial agreement to protect Caroline's fortune and later settled in Buffalo, where they ranked among the city's leading socialites and philanthropists.


Literature was also important to Caroline's second husband. Millard Fillmore had been a lover of books since boyhood.  By the time he reached adulthood, his library differed little from those found in families of wealth and education. Yet Fillmore was born into a poor family and became an indentured servant. His responsibilities, which ranged from farming, accounting, wood-cutting, and textile-making, prevented him from receiving a continuous education. So Fillmore educated himself. Motivated by a thirst for knowledge and a growing awareness of his comprehensive deficiencies, Fillmore read voraciously - using a dictionary to learn the meaning of words he didn't understand. Fillmore taught himself to read, and as he could not afford to buy books, sometimes he stole them.


Still obsessed with his education, he attended school in a nearby town, and his teacher, Abigail Powers, encouraged his studies. In time, she became the most influential and trusted person in his life. Abigail helped him learn with precision, and on subjects where they both lacked knowledge, they studied together. Fillmore realized when he later moved away that he had been "unconsciously stimulated by the companionship" of his teacher, but, too poor to visit Abigail Powers, they did not see each other for three years. In the interim, he apprenticed to a lawyer, began to teach professionally in the city of Buffalo, and was able to begin a law practice across the street from which he built a home to share with his new wife. When Millard Fillmore went to the state capital in Albany to serve a term in the state legislature, his wife stayed behind and began to purchase books of literature, poetry, and the classics to build upon his collection of law books at home, the core of what would become their personal library. Together, the Fillmores established a lending library and college in the city: the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Library.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


Item: 66294

Price: $1,000.00
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