Sunday, 26 June 2011

National Review Praises Canada in Most Surprising Way


Reading the latest issue of National Review, I was surprised to find an article that actually praised Canada’s governmental system. I wonder if Hell has frozen over, or if air-traffic controllers will be writing reports of flying pigs anytime soon…?

Sunday, 19 June 2011

“Millard Fillmore” by Paul Finkelman (Times)

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The oddly-named president whose short-sightedness and stubbornness fractured the nation and sowed the seeds of civil war.

In the summer of 1850, America was at a terrible crossroads. Congress was in an uproar over slavery, and it was not clear if a compromise could be found. In the midst of the debate, President Zachary Taylor suddenly took ill and died. The presidency, and the crisis, now fell to the little-known vice president from upstate New York.

In this biography, legal scholar and historian Paul Finkelman reveals how Millard Fillmore’s response to the crisis he inherited set the country on a dangerous path that led to the Civil War. Fillmore stubbornly catered to the South, alienating his fellow Northerners and creating a fatal rift in the Whig Party, which would soon disappear from American politics — as would Fillmore himself, after failing to regain the White House under the banner of the anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic “Know Nothing” Party.

Though Fillmore did have an eye toward the future, dispatching Commodore Matthew Perry on the famous voyage that opened Japan to the West, on the central issues of the age his myopic vision led to the destruction of his presidency, his party, and ultimately, the Union itself.

In this short biography of the largely forgotten thirteenth president of the United States, historian Finkelman provides a superb history of the time, but after finishing, Fillmore himself remains somewhat elusive and incidental.