“We start off with—oh, exciting—A Few Moments with Millard Fillmore,” Jeopardy! host Ken Jennings said during the March 14 broadcast.
The winningest contestant in the game show’s history might’ve been cracking a joke at the 13th president’s expense, but for AU’s Michael Cohen, who’s two years into a decades-long project transcribing Fillmore’s correspondence, the Jeopardy! category was anything but a trivial pursuit.
In November, Cohen, editor of The Correspondence of Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore, received an email from a Jeopardy! writer who asked to pick his brain about the relationship between the two men, who only spent a combined four years in the White House.
“He asked me if there were any letters between them and if it’s known where and under what circumstances they first met,” says Cohen, research professor in the Department of Government and faculty fellow with the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies. “I gave him quotes from their first letters that they exchanged, one of which ended up being the basis for the clue*.”
In 1848 Fillmore wrote to this man who had chosen him for VP, saying I know you never heard of me before the convention
Jennings thanked the Taylor Fillmore Correspondence Project “for helping us research that,” after contestant Matt Glassman buzzed in with the right question. The LA bar owner picked up $400—not enough to win the day, but enough to make Cohen’s.
A few moments with Millard Fillmore
$200: This West Coast state joined the Union during Fillmore's presidency What is California?
$400: In 1848 Fillmore wrote to this man who had chosen him for VP, saying I know you never heard of me before the convention* Who is Zachary Taylor?
$600: Too-friendly-to-slavery Millard’s name is being take off things at UB, the U. at this city in New York where he was 1st chancellor What is Buffalo?
$800: Shortly after taking office, Fillmore named this religious leader the governor of the Utah territory Who is Brigham Young?
$1000: One of Fillmore’s nicknames was “the last of” this political party’s presidents What is Whig?