In February 1856, while the ex-president toured Europe, his handlers secured for him the American party presidential nomination. Fillmore's campaign was a disaster from start to finish. In one of his first campaign speeches, the ex-president outraged most northerners by implying that the South would be justified in seceding should the Republican candidate, John C. Frémont, carry the election. Fillmore's supporters emphasized that he was the only candidate capable of restoring harmony between North and South in the wake of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Yet that legislation, the caning of Massachusetts abolitionist senator Charles Sumner, and the "sack" of Lawrence, Kansas, by proslavery Missourians had convinced many northerners that compromise with the South was pointless. Consequently, most northern Know Nothings repudiated Fillmore and supported Frémont instead. Even in the South, where Fillmore's message carried greater appeal, many members of the American party voted for Democrat James Buchanan out of fear that ballots cast for Fillmore's apparently hopeless candidacy would lead to a Frémont victory. On election day Fillmore carried only Maryland, and although four other southern states eluded him by just a few thousand votes, the ex-president considered his popular tally of 22 percent an embarrassment. Fillmore's defeat destroyed the American party as a national political force and marked the end of his political career.
Tyler Anbinder, "Fillmore, Millard," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/04/04-00374.html.
FILLMORE, Millard, a Representative from New York, Vice President and 13th President of the United States; born in Locke Township (now Summerhill), Cayuga County, N.Y., January 7, 1800; reared on a farm; largely self-taught; apprenticed to a clothier; taught school in Buffalo while studying law; admitted to the bar in 1823 and commenced practice in East Aurora, N.Y.; moved to Buffalo, N.Y., in 1830; member, State assembly 1829-1831; elected as a Whig to the Twenty-third Congress (March 4, 1833-March 3, 1835); elected to the Twenty-fifth, Twenty-sixth, and Twenty-seventh Congresses (March 4, 1837-March 3, 1843); declined to be a candidate for renomination in 1842; unsuccessful Whig candidate for Governor in 1844; State comptroller 1847-1849; elected Vice President of the United States on the Whig ticket headed by Zachary Taylor in 1848, and was inaugurated March 4, 1849; became President upon the death of President Taylor and served from July 10, 1850, to March 3, 1853; unsuccessful candidate for the Whig nomination for president in 1852; unsuccessful candidate for president on the National American ticket in 1856; commanded a corps of home guards during the Civil War; traveled extensively; died in Buffalo, N.Y., March 8, 1874; interment in Forest Lawn Cemetery.
“Fillmore, Millard,” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774 to Present, http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=F000115.