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Abigail Fillmore was Millard Fillmore’s wife and the first of the First Ladies to hold a job after marriage. She believed women should have equal access to higher education and had the potential to excel in all fields of the intellect.
See the fact file below for more information on the Abigail Fillmore or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Abigail Fillmore worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Abigail Powers Fillmore was born in Stillwater, Saratoga County, New York, on March 13, 1798. She was one of seven children, with a sister and five brothers.
- Her father was a prominent local Baptist preacher named Lemuel Powers. He died on May 18, 1800 but he left Abigail and her siblings a rich educational legacy in his large personal library of books.
- Abigail Powers became a teacher in a village school in Sempronius in 1814. Although her first year of teaching was conducted in the same building where her predecessors had taught, unlike them, she taught in what was now a public institution. The town council approved funding for a public school in 1812.
- In 1817, Abigail was hired as a full-time teacher after three years of working part-time.
- She also began teaching at New Hope Academy, a private school nearby New Hope village in 1819.
- Her oldest pupil there was a 19 year old Millard Fillmore, who came to the Academy to learn arithmetic, reading, spelling, and writing lessons.
- Like Abigail, Millard had a zest for learning despite his humble origins, and during their time spent studying together, the relationship between the teacher and the student gradually developed into a romantic attachment.
MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
- In February 5, 1826, the 27 year old Abigail and a 26 year old Millard Fillmore were married at the house of Abigail’s brother, Judge Powers, in Moravia, New York. The proceeding was led by Reverend Orasius H. Smith.
- They later on settled in at East Aurora, New York. Abigail Fillmore kept teaching school until her first son was born and retained a lifelong interest in education.
- She shared a love of books with her husband and helped build her own personal library.
- The Fillmores had a son, Millard Powers Fillmore (1828–1889) and a daughter, Mary Abigail Fillmore (1832–1854).
- As a wife of a Congressman, Abigail studied the ways of society.
- She cultivated a noted flower garden but she spent most of her time reading, as always.
- The Fillmore’s family temporarily moved to Albany, New York, when Millard Fillmore was elected to the New York State Comptroller in 1847.
- Later, Abigail Fillmore moved to Washington, D.C. in 1849, as her husband Millard became Vice President. Thus, she became the United States’ Second Lady.
- Sixteen months later, after Zachary Taylor’s (12th U.S. President) death at a height of sectional crisis, the Fillmores moved into the White House and she became First Lady.
- The social life of the Fillmore administration remained subdued even after the period of official mourning. Suffering from a wounded ankle that was never properly healed, Abigail was unable to stand up for a long period of time and, pleading her delicate health, entrusted her younger daughter (who was known as Abby) with many routine social duties.
- The White House held a reception every Friday night, where she had to wait for hours to welcome and socialize with the guests.
- When Abigail moved to the White House for the first time, she was reportedly appalled that there was no library in it. She spent contented hours collecting books from Congress for a White House library with a special $2,000 appropriation.
- Shakespeare, history, geography books, and her piano were in the library and she taught herself to play.
- She invited performance artists like Jenny Irving and writers like William Thackeray, Charles Dickens, and Washington Irving to collaborate with her. They established a literary salon in the White House. She was also reported as a witty conversationalist and the most intellectual of the early first ladies.
- Abigail Fillmore left a legacy of women and work. The general public realized that Abigail was educated and she served as a teacher. They also discovered that she created a library and that teaching was an honorable occupation. Abigail paved the way for education and mentoring young women and young first ladies.
- Abigail and Millard were excited about their post-presidency life and discussed traveling through Europe in the coming months. But she caught a cold at the outdoor opening ceremonies for Franklin Pierce in 1853, and came down with a fever the next day, which turned into bronchitis and eventually grew into pneumonia.
- At age 55, Abigail died on March 30, 1853 at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., the shortest post-presidential life of any former first lady, just 26 days after leaving the White House. Her unexpected and rapid death became the death of a first lady that was most widely published. She was buried in Buffalo, New York, at Forest Lawn Cemetery.
- The memorial stone was placed by the Abigail Fillmore Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, of Buffalo.
Abigail Fillmore Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Abigail Fillmore across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Abigail Fillmore worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Abigail Fillmore who was Millard Fillmore’s wife and the first of the First Ladies to hold a job after marriage. She believed women should have equal access to higher education and had the potential to excel in all fields of the intellect.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Abigail Fillmore Facts
- Biographical Profile
- Periods of History
- Jumble Bee
- List of Contributions
- First Things First
- Capes of Letters
- Women Discrimination
- Keywords Scrabble
- Lady Pix
- Remember Me
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Use With Any Curriculum
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