FILLMORE, Millard (1800-1874), President. Autograph letter signed ("Millard Fillmore") as Vice-President, to William Rich, Esq., Washington, D.C., 9 July 1850. 1 full page, large 8vo (7 3/16 x 4¾ in.). Verso with early inscription: "Letter written to my great uncle...on the day that Zachary Taylor died and Fillmore became President." Fine condition.
ON THE THRESHOLD OF THE PRESIDENCY: A LETTER WRITTEN ON THE DAY PRESIDENT TAYLOR DIED, THE DAY BEFORE FILLMORE BECAME PRESIDENT
After attending a 4th of July celebration on the Potomac, President Taylor drank iced milk and consumed cherries and other fruits. Taylor felt unwell that night, and by the evening of July 6 an army surgeon was summoned, who diagnosed the President's condition as cholera morbus. Taylor rallied on the seventh, but relapsed, and his condition worsened steadily. More physicians were called in, but on Tuesday, the 9th, Taylor bid his doctors farewell. Both the Senate and House voted to adjourn. At about 10:30 that night, Taylor, surrounded by family and cabinet officers, including Jefferson Davis, died quietly. Sometime during the tense day on which Taylor died, Vice-President Fillmore took up his pen to answer a personal letter: "I have your note of the 8th inst. inclosing a sealed box or package directed to Miss. C.P. Emmons...and agreeably to your request shall take great pleasure in forwarding the package to some one in Buffalo by the next safe conveyance. I return Miss Emmons' note..."
Fillmore spent much of the fateful day at the White House, but realizing the President was dying, returned to his lodgings at the Willard Hotel. The cabinet sent a messenger to formally announce to the Vice-President that the President had died. Fillmore requested to take the oath of office at noon the following day, and according to most accounts, did not sleep at all that night. The nation was without a President for some 14 hours until Fillmore was sworn in before a joint session of Congress at noon on July 10.
VERY RARE. No other Fillmore letter dated July 9 or 10 is recorded in auction records for the past 25 years.