Elbert B. Smith disagrees sharply with traditional interpretations of Taylor and Fillmore. He argues persuasively that the slaveholding Taylor--and not John C. Calhoun--was the realistic defender of southern slaveholding interests, and that Taylor did nothing to impede the Compromise of 1850. Most historians have written that Taylor's death and Fillmore's accession led to an abrupt change in presidential policy, but Smith believes that continuity predominated. He argues that Taylor and Fillmore have been seriously misrepresented and underrated. They faced a terrible national crisis and accepted every responsibility without flinching or directing blame toward anyone else. Each in his own way made a vital contribution to the peaceful settlement. In foreign affairs, both acted with restaint, firmness, logic, and creative imagination. Each deserves the more accurate portrayal of his presidency that this book provides.