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Title Abigail Powers Fillmore
Collection First Lady Dolls
Catalog Number 2015.017.015
Description Abigail Powers Fillmore (1798-1853)
Wife of Millard Fillmore - First Lady from 1850-1853

In 1819, Abigail first met Millard Fillmore when he came to enroll at the New Hope Academy, where she was employed as a public school teacher. He had a thirst for knowledge. His poverty and discipline for self-knowledge mirrored Abigails own experience and ambition. She helped him learn with precision, and on subjects where they both lacked knowledge, they studied together. His family moved but Abigail and Millard continued to keep in touch by letters. He apprenticed to a lawyer and began to teach professionally in the City of Buffalo. He eventually came back to the town of present-day East Aurora, New York, where Abigail was still teaching.
Abigail Powers was 30 years old when she married Millard Fillmore, on February 5, 1826 in Moravia, New York. She was the first of the First Ladies to hold a job after marriage.
In 1848, Zachary Taylor was elected President and Millard Fillmore his Vice President. Abigail did not attend the March 4, 1849 Inauguration. Abigail Fillmore was vacationing with her children at the New Jersey shore when they learned that President Taylor had died July 9, 1850 and that their husband and father was now President.
Abigail was 52 years old when she became First Lady. As First Lady she took an active interest in the popular cultural enterainment of the era. An innovation most frequently attributed to Abigail was the newly-created White House library on the second floor oval room; however, there exists no documentation to credit this to her.
Living in the White House with the President and First Lady were their two children. Mary Abigail "Abbie" Fillmore who frequently appeared at public events with her mother, serving as a supplemental hostess.
It was uncommon for women of this era to find pleasure in physical activity. Abigail did especially enjoy sea bathing and her vigorous exercise of walking. In 1842, she broke her ankle and it failed to heal properly which made standing at her husband's side to greet the public an ordeal. Therefore, she turned many duties over to her daughter, Abbie. She loved music, and playing the piano, harp, and guitar.
Abigail Powers Fillmore died just 24 days after she left her role as First Lady, on March 30, 1853, at the age 55 years old. Her death was more widely reported in detail, along with praiseful obituaries, than that of any of her predecessors. Both Congress and the President's Cabinet adjourned in mourning.
Event Bicentennial First Lady Doll Exhibit - Community Project
Creator Park, Phyllis Juhlin
Costume Costume by Sheila Stewart Wheeler
Given Given by June Farnes Stewart in honor of Ida Woodward Stewart
Source Uintah County Library