If Milf was known for anything, it was patience. Possibly the happiest years of his life were his 20s and 30s, when he and his two best friends ran a law firm in Buffalo, and also ran Buffalo itself. He was widely known for being a good lawyer, and a good teacher. Many, many young lawyers, including future president Garfield, came to learn from him and then spend evenings seeking his advice.
He was also famous for the political rivalry he had with Thurlow Weed, a newspaper editor, former friend, and champion of William Seward (senator, governor, rival and eventual second fiddle to Lincoln). Weed launched a smear campaign against Milf that lasted decades, and Milf put up with it without ever striking back.
In a particularly poetic string of events, Weed was a big supporter of Milf for vice-president solely so that he would be out of New York, ensuring Seward’s bid for governor, which was thought to be a more powerful position than VP. With Milf as VP and Seward as governor, Weed started manipulating President Taylor to undercut Milf’s authority until surprise! – Taylor died, Fillmore became president, and Weed got burned.
Although he didn’t get too burned. For being the new president’s most vocal antagonist, Milf did almost nothing to shut him down when he took office. He let Weed’s friends keep their appointments, tried to work with Seward, and generally took the high road. He had bigger things to worry about, I guess is the point, than New York politics, which has always been ugly.
And at the time, even more than usual, every politician was mad all the time. Sectional conflict was starting to get pretty real, and they couldn’t even pass a bill about building canals without slavery coming up. So Milf’s main job, and main accomplishment, as a president was making most of the people happy most of the time. It’s not a legacy that forges monuments, but it’s a lot more than many of the leading politicians of the day could have done.
Of course, the flip side of being a compromise president is the argument that compromise wasn’t the noble path. Now that we all know that the compromises of the 1840s and 1850s only delayed war instead of avoiding it, these men look pretty impotent, which is why Milf gets no respect. But he seems like he was a really nice guy.