James Buchanan Facts - 15th president of USA

The 15th president of the united states James Buchanan facts and he was born on April 23, 1791, and died on June 1, 1868. He was the 15th President of the United States of America.

James Buchanan Facts

He was the last President elected who was born in the 18th century. James Buchanan is also the only President from the state of Pennsylvania, and he is the only president to remain a bachelor for his entire lifetime.

James Buchanan Biography

He was a popular politician even before becoming president. James Buchanan represented Pennsylvania in the House of Representatives and also in the Senate. He additionally served as the Secretary of State under James K. Polk.

Buchanan turned down an offer for an appointment in the United States Supreme Court. He instead served as the Minister to the United Kingdom under Franklin Pierce. During this time, he helped to draft the Ostend Manifesto, which hinted that the United States should declare war if Spain would not sell Cuba. The Ostend Manifesto was not acted on and damaged the administration of Franklin Pierce.

James Buchanan unsuccessfully attempted to get the nomination for President from the Democratic Party. When he was nominated for President in 1856, it was a compromise between the two sides of the issue of slavery and happened while Buchanan happened to be away on business. As President, he became known as a "doughface," or a Northerner who had Southern sympathies. He battled Stephen A. Douglas for the control of the Democratic Party.

Buchanan tried to make peace with the North and South, and in the process ended up alienating both sides. The Southern states declared that they would secede, but Buchanan's view on the topic was that secession was illegal, and going to war was illegal, so as President, he remained inactive in the manner.

At the point when he left the office of President, he had lost popularity, and the Democratic Party had split into two. While Buchanan had hoped to have a presidency that compared to that of George Washington, in reality, he was ranked as one of the worst Presidents, and at times the "worst president" ever.

Early Life of James Buchanan

James Buchanan Jr. was born near Mercersburg, in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. He was born in a log cabin to James Buchanan Sr. and Elizabeth Speer in 1791. He was the second out of eleven children born into the family, but three of the eleven children died as infants.

Buchanan had six sisters and four brothers. His childhood was spent living in the James Buchanan Hotel. He went to the village academy and also Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. At one point, he was expelled from school for his bad behavior, but after pleading for another chance, he was reinstated and ended up graduating with honors on the 19th of September in 1809.

Later in that same year, Buchanan moved to Lancaster, and there he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1812. He was a Federalist, and he opposed the War of 1812, believing it to be an unnecessary conflict. Yet when the British invaded Maryland, he joined a volunteer light dragoon unit in order to defend Baltimore.

During his lifetime, James Buchanan was a Master of Masonic Lodge #43 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and he was also a District Deputy Grand Master of a place called the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.

James Buchanan's Political Career

James Buchanan started his political career in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from the years of 1814-1816, where he served as a Federalist. Buchanan was elected to Congress in 1821 and was there for the following four succeeding Congresses, and he served as a chairman of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary as well as the 21st United States Congress.

In 1830, James Buchanan was one of the members that were appointed by the House in order to conduct impeachment proceedings against a judge of the United States District Court for the District of Missouri, named James H. Peck, but Peck was then acquitted. Buchanan then did not seek to be reelected, and from 1832 until 1834, he was an ambassador to Russia.

In order to fill a vacancy, James Buchanan was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in order to fill a vacancy there and he served in this function from December of 1834 and was re-elected two more times, in 1837 and in 1843. Then he resigned in 1845. Following the death of Henry Baldwin, Supreme Court Justice, in 1844, James Buchanan was nominated by President James Polk to serve as the Justice of the Supreme Court. He chose not to accept the nomination, and the position of Supreme Court Justice was accepted by Robert Cooper Grier instead.

From 1845 until 1849, James Buchanan served as the Secretary of State, even though there had been objections from his rival, the Vice President, George Dallas. Even so, he was appointed by President Polk. As Secretary of State, he helped to negotiate the 1846 Oregon Treaty, which established the 49th parallel as a northern boundary for the western United States.

Since James Buchanan, no Secretary of State has become President, although William Howard Taft often served as the Acting Secretary of State during the administration of Theodore Roosevelt.

In 1852, James Buchanan was named as the president of the Board of Trustees for the Franklin and Marshall College that was in his hometown in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He continued with this position until 1866. From 1853 until 1856, Buchanan was the minister to the Court of St. James's.  During this time, he helped to draft the Ostend Manifesto, which stated that Cuba should be purchased from Spain in order to continue slavery. This Manifesto was a poor decision on the part of the Pierce Presidency and it weakened American support for Manifest Destiny.

Buchanan Elected as President

In 1856, James Buchanan was nominated by the Democrats mainly because he was in England while the Kansas-Nebraska debate was ongoing. Therefore he was not tainted by either side of this issue.  He was nominated and accepted even though he apparently did not wish to run. Buchanan was able to defeat John C. Fremont in 1856, who was the first Republican candidate. Buchanan served as President from March 4, 1857, until March 4, 1861.

In Buchanan's inaugural address, he stated that he would not run again for president, and also that the territorial question of slavery had little practical James Buchanan Phot importance and would be decided by the Supreme Court. Just two days later, the Chief Justice, Roger B. Taney, stated that Congress did not have the constitutional power to exclude slavery from occurring in the territories.

It was reported that Buchanan was personally involved in the decision and many Northerners said they saw Taney whispering to Buchanan during the inauguration. Buchanan wanted the territorial question to be figured out by the Supreme Court. He also lobbied with Justice Robert Cooper Grier to encourage him to vote to uphold the right of owning slave property. Abraham Lincoln stated that he was an accomplice of Slave Power.

Buchanan had more trouble over the territorial question. He threw the administration behind the Congressional approval of the Lecompton Constitution in Kansas, which would have allowed Kansas to enter as a slave state. He even offered patronage appointments as well as cash bribes in order to get votes. The Lecompton government was not popular among the Northerners since it was controlled by slaveholders who started laws that would cut off the rights of the non-slaveholders. While the voters in Kansas had rejected the Lecompton Constitution, Buchanan still pushed it through the House, but it was blocked in the Senate by Northerners.

Finally, Congress voted to call a new vote on it, which made the Southerners angry. Then Buchanan and Douglas were in an all-out struggle to control the party from 1859-1860, with Douglas using his grassroots, and Buchanan using his patronage powers. Buchanan lost control of the party that had become weak.

Buchanan favored the rights of the slaveowners. He also sympathized with those who wanted Cuba for the expansion of slavery. Buchanan did not like free-soil Republicans or abolitionists. He fought those who opposed the Slave Power. He actually claimed that slaves were treated with humanity and kindness and this had led to a humane result. Another point of interest about Buchanan is that he vetoed a bill that was passed by Congress in order to create more colleges because he believed that there were already too many people who were educated.

With the outbreak of the Panic of 1857, there were economic problems in Buchanan's administration.  Soon the government didn't have enough revenue, and this was partially the responsibility of the Democrats who pushed to lower the tariff.

In March of 1857, Buchanan learned falsely that Governor Brigham Young of the Utah Territory which was dominated by Mormons was going to revolt. In November, Buchanan sent the Army to replace Young with the non-Mormon Alfred Cumming neither confirming the reports nor even notifying Young that he would be replaced.

The Mormons were expecting the worse, and Young called up a militia of a few thousand men to defend their Territory and sent a small band in order to harass and delay the Army from entering.  Because of early winter, the Army had to camp, and negotiations between the Territory and the federal government began. Because he did not confirm reports or warn the territorial government of his plans, widespread condemnation of Buchanan occurred as a result of both Congress and the Press who called this war, "Buchanan's Blunder." Young agreed to be replaced by Cumming and let the Army enter Utah Territory. Buchanan then issued proclamations stating that he mercifully pardoned the rebels. These proclamations were not received well by the inhabitants of Utah or Congress.

When the Republicans were able to win a plurality in the House in 1858, every bill that was passed fell before Senate votes or a veto by the President. At this point, a stalemate was reached. There Was much hostility between the Southern Democrats and the Republicans. Buchanan was also dogged by the partisan Covode committee, which was investigating Buchanan's administration in search of offenses that might be impeachable.

In 1860, the Democratic Party split. The southern wing of the party walked out of the convention and nominated their own candidate, the incumbent Vice President John C. Calhoun, but Buchanan would not support him. The rest of the party was in favor of Stephen Douglas, who was Buchanan's enemy. Therefore when the Republicans nominated Abraham Lincoln, it was a conclusion that on November 6, 1860, Lincoln would be elected as President even though his name was only on the ballot in free states, Delaware, and a few of the border states.

Buchanan gave his Message to Congress on December 3, 1860, and he stated that states did not have the legal right to secede, but that the Federal Government also did not have the legal right to prevent them. He was hoping for a compromise, but the secessionist leaders did not want this. He then watched with inaction as South Carolina seceded on December 20. Then six other cotton states did the same, and by February they were called the Confederate States of America. Eight slavery stated did not join the seceded states.

Starting towards the end of December, James Buchanan reorganized his Cabinet as he got rid of the sympathizers with the Confederacy and replaced them with nationalists such as Jeremiah S. Black, Edwin M. Stanton, Joseph Holt, and John A. Dix. Then Prior to him leaving office, all of the arsenals and the forts of the seceding states were lost with the exception of Fort Sumter and three island outposts located in Florida.

On January 5, James Buchanan sent a civilian steamer to carry supplies and reinforcements to Fort Sumter.  On the ninth of January in 1861, South Carolina batteries opened fire on the civilian steamer, Star of the West, which came back to New York.  Buchanan did nothing to prepare for war.

Personal Life of James Buchanan

In 1819, James Buchanan was engaged to a young lady named Ann Caroline Coleman, who was the daughter of a wealthy manufacturing businessman. During their courtship, Buchanan spent very little time with her. He was very busy with his law firm and his political projects during that time. There were a number of rumors, which stated that he was just marrying her for her money or that he was involved with other women.

Buchanan, however, never spoke about his motives or feelings about it.  She must have been paying attention to the rumors, as she broke off their engagement. Soon afterward, she died. The records of her doctor stated that this was the first instance he knew of in which hysteria could produce a death.  He believed that her death was caused by an overdose of laudanum. The Coleman family became very bitter towards him and Buchanan wrote a letter to her father, but it was returned to him unopened. He kept his letters with her for the rest of his life and had them burned when he died. He decided that he would not marry because his affections were in the grave.

For fifteen years before becoming president, BuchanaWilliam Rufus King lived with Alabama Senator William Rufus King, a close friend. He became the Vice President under Franklin Pierce. He became ill and died shortly after the inauguration of Pierce and four years before Buchanan became the President. Andrew Jackson called the pair, "Miss Nancy" and "Aunt Fancy." Aaron Brown spoke of them as "Buchanan and his wife." People continue to speculate about the nature of their relationship, but the nieces of the two destroyed the correspondences of the two men. He was the only President to never be married, and so he turned to an orphaned niece of his, Harriet Lane, whom he had adopted earlier, to act as his First Lady.

Legacy of James Buchanan

In 1866, James Buchanan published Mr. Buchanan's Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion. It was the first presidential memoir to be published, and in it, he defended his actions, and he proclaimed before he died that history will vindicate his memory. He passed away on June 1, 1868, when he was 77 years old at his home in Wheatland. He was interred in Woodward Hill Cemetery in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Historians continue to criticize his administration. He did not act when secession occurred. Historians have considered his failure to deal with this as the biggest presidential mistake to ever be made. Historical rankings that are done regarding the Presidents have consistently placed him among the worst of all American presidents based on leadership qualities, achievements, failures, and faults.

There is a memorial made of bronze and granite for Buchanan near the Southeast corner of the Meridian Hill Park in Washington, D.C. It was designed by William Gorden, an architect, and it was sculpted by the United States Congress until 1918. There are also three counties that have been named in his honor.

Read James Buchanan Facts

Young Hickory of the Granite Hills

November 23, 1804, in Hillsborough New Hampshire

Anna Kendrick

Benjamin Pierce

Nancy M., Harriet B.and Half-sister Elizabeth Andrews

Benjamin Kendrick, John Sullivan Charles Grandson, and Henry Dearborn

Jane Means Appleton ON November 19, 1834, in Amherst, New Hampshire

Franklin, Frank Rover, and Benjamin

Pierce Homestead, Hillsborough Upper Village, N.H.

Attended public school
Graduated from Bowdoin College 1824


Lawyer, Politician, and Soldier

Mexican War: enlisted as a private in the New Hampshire volunteers
Commissioned in U.S. Army in February 1847
Brigadier General in U.S. Army (1847-1848)Resigned from the army in 1848


New Hampshire legislature (1829-1833)Speaker (1831-1832)
US Representative (1833-1837)
US Senator (1837-1842)
US President one term


On March 4, 1853, at the age of 48
Franklin Pierce - Inaugural Address

Franklin Pierce Administration

One term (March 4, 1853-March 4, 1857)

William Rufus De Vane King (1853)

Jane Pierce (1853-1857)
Facts About Jane Pierce
Biography of Jane Pierce

John A. Campbell (1853)

Franklin Pierce Cabinet
William L. Marcy (1853-1857)

James Guthrie (1853-1857)

Jefferson Davis (1853-1857)

Caleb Cushing (1853-1857)

James Campbell (1853-1857)

James C. Dobbin (1853-1857)

Robert McClelland (1853-1857)



October 8, 1869, at concord New Hampshire, at the age of 64

Old North Cemetery, Concord, N.H.

Hillsborough, N.H. (boyhood home)
Concord, N.H. (adult home)
Old North Cemetery, Concord, N.H.

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