(ARCHIV)_Who was Fillmore?


The village of Fillmore, in Allegany County, is named after U.S. President Millard Fillmore.  Fillmore had a direct association with Hungarian freedom fighter Louis Kossuth.  In the same county, there also is a Hamlet of Kossuth.

After the Hungarian revolution of 1848-49 against the Habsburgs, Kossuth languished under detention inTurkey.  But in September 1851, Daniel Webster, now secretary of state, with the cooperation of U.S. minister George Perkins Marsh, secured the release of Kossuth and fifty of his Magyar associates. Congress passed a resolution inviting Kossuth to visit the United States.

The Hungarian accepted with alacrity; the success of his mission in Americahinged on his acceptance by an administration that was determined to offer him nothing, yet Pres. Fillmore continued to support Kossuth-friendly policies.   The president dispatched the USS Mississippi, already in the Mediterranean, to carry him to England.  After a triumphal stop in England, he proceeded to the United States.  Upon his arrival inNew York City on December 5, announced by the booming of cannon, Kossuth received the city’s greatest ovation since the visit ofLafayette a quarter century earlier.

While inWashington, Kossuth was the guest of President and first lady Caroline Fillmore.  On December 23, Webster acknowledged privately the need for caution in dealing with Kossuth: “We shall treat him with respect, but shall give him no encouragement that the established policy of the country will be in any degree departed from.”  Two days later, Webster admitted that Kossuth’s presence inWashingtonwould be embarrassing.

Upon Kossuth’s arrival, Webster privately outlined his course of action: “I shall treat him with all personal and individual respect, but if he should speak to me of the policy of ‘intervention,’ I shall ‘have ears more deaf than adders.'” At the White House on December 31, Kossuth, despite Webster’s request, could not resist the temptation to make a lengthy plea for American aid. President Millard Fillmore reminded the Hungarian leader thatU.S.policy on intervention had been uniform since the Republic’s founding.

Kossuth was the second foreign citizen to be invited to speak to a joint session of the United States Congress, second only to the Marquis de Lafayette of France.