The U.S. Mint this week is releasing the Millard Fillmore presidential dollar coin, with an official launch ceremony on Thursday in Moravia (pop. 4,000), near his birthplace. Some people in Buffalo are miffed.
Fillmore, you see, is buried in Buffalo, where he made his mark as the first chancellor of the University at Buffalo, founding member and first president of the Buffalo Club, and founder of the Buffalo Historical society.
"His legacy is here in Buffalo, not in—what is it?—Moravia," says William Regan, special-events director for the University at Buffalo. He heads up the annual birthday tribute at Fillmore's grave. "Why [the coin ceremony] isn't in Buffalo, I couldn't tell you. It is kind of strange."
Buffalo has decided to have its own coin ceremony at City Hall, complete with the representative from the Mint who has promised to swing by. Not even George Washington got a coin launch complete with a Mint rep in two cities.
But you'd better believe Moravia isn't taking this lying down!
"You ask a kid in Moravia, what was the first thing that Fillmore bought with the money he saved from working when he was young? They'll tell you—a dictionary!" she says.
"We spent quite a lot of time in history class going over the things that Fillmore did," says 57-year-old Lee Conklin, a lifelong Moravian and owner of an auto-parts store there. The late Robert Scarry, a Moravia history teacher, wrote a book detailing the president's life.
Fueled by Mr. Scarry's passion, Moravians have built a replica log cabin near Fillmore's birthplace, hold an annual Fillmore antique-car show, and held annual bathtub races for 20 years. "It was always a kind of joke with the bathtub thing," says Mr. Conklin. The races came to an end in 1999, in part because of safety concerns and the cost of insurance for the event, says Mr. Phillips.
I love the idea of Moravia, New York as the national center for Fillmore Studies. In fact, I should get a job at the nearest college to Moravia and start a Fillmore Studies Program. Can we create a Washington-cutting-down-the-cherry-tree myth with Fillmore saving for the dictionary? Our glorious national past demands we honor this glorious patriarch! And in Sarah Palin's America, we can even claim Fillmore as a Founding Father!
I am kind of sad to see neither Buffalo nor Moravia embracing Fillmore's Know-Nothing period though. Given current levels of national insanity, it'd probably make Fillmore a national star.
Next--A New Hampshire civil war as various towns start launching guerilla attacks against the others who also claim a close connection to Franklin Pierce!!!