Born of humble origins in New York State, Millard Fillmore (1800-1874) became a lawyer and won election to the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in 1833. He served four terms in Congress but left in 1843 to mount an unsuccessful run for the governorship of New York. In 1848, he emerged as the Whig Party candidate for vice president under Zachary Taylor, and after Taylor’s victory he presided over months of early debate in Congress over the controversial Compromise of 1850. Taylor died suddenly in mid-1850 and Fillmore succeeded him, becoming the nation’s 13th president (1850-1853). Though Fillmore personally opposed slavery, he saw the Compromise as necessary to preserving the Union and enforced its strong Fugitive Slave Act during his presidency. This stance alienated Fillmore from voters in the North, and in 1852 he failed to gain the Whig nomination.