The city lawmakers of Buffalo, New York, approved a motion to expunge former President Millard Fillmore’s name from city-owned property because of his role in the Compromise of 1850.
According to local ABC affiliate WKBW, the Buffalo Common Council is also seeking advice from citizens regarding who should replace the 13th president, who was one of the town’s leading figures and played a role in founding some of its key institutions, such as Buffalo General Hospital and The University at Buffalo.
Fillmore’s legacy has become problematic ostensibly because of the Compromise of 1850, the major legislation of his short presidency. The Compromise, which included the controversial Fugitive Slave Act, sought to defuse the tension between the North and South as U.S. territory expanded after the Mexican-American War.
Buffalo’s Democrat Mayor Byron Brown said in a statement last month:
I have requested that the Buffalo Arts Commission review all statues and monuments with an eye toward evaluating the legacy of the honorees and making recommendations to re-purpose any that are undesirable historical figures.
I have asked that this review be done in the context of the time the person lived in and weighing their entire record. I have also asked the Buffalo History Museum to provide technical assistance to the Arts Commission and advise the city of Buffalo on the historical significance of these individuals and how to place their lives in proper perspective.
Through this process, I also want to bring the stories of other worthy individuals who are black, Native American, minority and women to light, so that their stories will be told and they receive proper recognition.
One person who I would like to see recognized with a statue in Buffalo is Mary Burnett Talbert, 1866-1923. She was an orator, activist, suffragist, writer and reformer. As a Buffalo resident Mary B. Talbert was an international icon and one of best known African Americans and women of her time. She was a founder of the Niagara Movement, the precursor organization to the NAACP.
As The Daily Wire reported last month, the University at Buffalo (UB) also agreed to scrub from their buildings any mention of Fillmore, though he helped to found the institution.
Despite criticism for the Compromise of 1850, some historians credit it with postponing the Civil War. Professor James Campbell, a professor at UB, told The College Fix he thought the decision to remove Fillmore from the school was “terrible,” adding:
The nation was better off because of Fillmore’s service as president—and that includes the black Americans who were not traded as slaves in DC because of the Compromise, the black Americans who were not held as slaves in southern California because of California’s admission as a free state because of the Compromise, and the black Americans not held in slavery because the western boundaries of the slave state of Texas were greatly reduced because of the Compromise.
Most of all, the North was in a stronger position to win the Civil War and end slavery ten years later because of Fillmore’s support for the Compromise. None of this would have happened without Fillmore taking the stand he did. And how do we show our gratitude? It’s not right.
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