4. Millard Fillmore (President #13, 1850-1853)
Much like the first entry on our list, Millard Fillmore came from the most humble of beginnings but still managed to fight his way to the top.
Born in a log cabin on January 7th, 1800 to a destitute family, by age 15 he was apprenticed to a cloth maker to keep his family afloat. After teaching himself to read, he would use his tireless work ethic to eventually become a lawyer.
In 1819, he got a job as a clerk with a local judge and was admitted to the New York bar in 1823. Fillmore joined the Anti-Masonic Party as a young lawyer, and his political career subsequently began.
In 1828, he ran for the New York State Assembly and won, serving three terms before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1832. In 1848, the Whigs ran Fillmore for VP alongside Zachary Taylor.
The pair won the election but remained divided by their views on slavery (Taylor being a southern slave owner, and Fillmore, well, not).
When Taylor died from an ‘unknown digestive ailment’ in 1850, Fillmore took over the presidency. He tried to appease the North and South by supporting the Compromise of 1850, a package of five bills he thought would settle many of the issues faced by the Taylor administration.
Unfortunately, the move alienated the North and created enemies on both sides of the political divide. The legacy he had tried to build for himself became tainted and he lost several bids for re-election dying of a stroke nine years later in 1874.