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When Franklin Pierce was elected President, slavery was the top issue of the campaign. The divisive issue destroyed the Whig Party and created the Republican Party in its place. However, slaveholders had a majority of the vote, so Buchanan was elected President over the Republican John Fremont in 1856. Pierce and Buchanan gave in to the demand for slavery, even further angering the Abolitionists, and the violence in Kansas predicted the inevitable: a Civil War was beginning.

Franklin Pierce

Title: [President Franklin Pierce, three-quarter length portrait, seated, facing right, with left hand inside vest]   Date Created/Published: [between 1855 and 1865, printed later]

Title: [President Franklin Pierce, three-quarter length portrait, seated, facing right, with left hand inside vest]
Date Created/Published: [between 1855 and 1865, printed later]

14th President 1853-1857

Fast Facts:

  • Birth: November 23, 1804 in Hillsboro, New Hampshire
  • Died: October 8, 1869 in Concord, New Hampshire
  • Home: Pierce Homestead, Hillsboro Upper Village, New Hampshire
  • Parents: Benjamin (1757-1839) and Anna Kendrick (1768-1838) Pierce
  • Wife: Jane Appleton (1806-1863)
  • Marriage: November 19, 1834
  • Children: None who survived childhood; Benjamin (1841-1853) survived the longest
  • Occupations: Lawyer, Politician, and Soldier
  • Religion: Episcopalian
  • Political Party: Democratic
  • Political Offices Before Presidency: Member and Speaker of New Hampshire Legislature, U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator
  • Military Service: Brigadier General in U.S. Army (1847-1848)
  • Electoral Results: 1852: 254 Electoral Votes to 42 for Winfield Scott of New Jersey
  • Vice President: William Rufus DeVane King of Alabama 1853

More Facts:

  • Pierce was the first President born in the 19th Century
  • Pierce’s father was the Governor of New Hampshire twice, in 1827 and 1829
  • Pierce had retired from politics in 1842 due to the insistence of his wife
  • The Election of 1852 was the last election in which the Whig Party competed in
  • Pierce’s son, Benjamin, died in a train accident on his way to the White House
  • Pierce opposed the Union effort during the Civil War

Grading: F

  • Pierce completed the Gadsden Purchase, buying 45,000 square miles of Land from Mexico
  • Pierce Signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which opened the Western States to Slavery based on voting. In response, both Abolitionists and Slaveholders fought over control of the state, leading up to the Civil War
  • Pierce supported the Ostend Manifesto, which was a plan to annex Cuba from Spain. Abolitionists opposed it because Cuba would become another slave state, so Pierce was forced to abandon his plans

Pierce sped up the countdown to Civil War due to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and was denied Re-election by his own party in 1856.

Pierce was succeeded by the Minister to Great Britain and a bachelor.

James Buchanan

15th President 1857-1861

Title: [James Buchanan, bust portrait, facing right]   Date Created/Published: [photographed between 1850 and 1870, printed later]

Title: [James Buchanan, bust portrait, facing right]
Date Created/Published: [photographed between 1850 and 1870, printed later]

Fast Facts:

  • April 23, 1791 in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania
  • Died: June 1, 1868 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  • Home: Wheatland, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  • Parents: James (1761-1821) and Elizabeth Spencer (1767-1833) Buchanan
  • Wife: None
  • Marriage: None
  • Children: None
  • Occupations: Lawyer
  • Religion: Presbyterian
  • Political Party: Democratic
  • Political Offices Before Presidency: Member of Pennsylvania House of Representatives, U.S. Representative, Minister to Russia, U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, Minister to Great Britain
  • Military Service: None
  • Electoral Results: 1856: 174 Electoral Votes to 114 for John C. Fremont of California and 8 for Millard Fillmore of New York
  • Vice President: John Cabell Breckenridge of Kentucky 1857-1861
  • States Admitted to the Union: Minnesota, Oregon, and Kansas

More Facts:

  • Buchanan was the last President born in the 18th century
  • Buchanan was the only President who did not have a wife and the last with no children
  • Buchanan was chosen President because he had been abroad during the Slavery issue
  • Buchanan supported the Union cause during the Civil War

Grading: F

Buchanan is considered one of the worst presidents in American History.

Buchanan, just like Pierce, was “Soft on Slavery”, and tried to illegally admit Kansas as a slave state to appease southerners. Failing in that, he did nothing to prevent the Civil War that would kill over 600,000 Americans and would turn brother against brother.

  • Buchanan tried to admit Kansas as a slave state even though abolitionists held a majority of the vote there and had revoked the slaveholding-favoring constitution. Kansas was eventually admitted as a free state
  • During the Dred Scott Decision, the Supreme court ruled that free slaves could still be taken back to the South by their owners, and the Court also struck down the Missouri Compromise as unconstitutional, angering Abolitionists and Republicans to the brink of war
  • Buchanan did nothing when South Carolina seceded from the union, and soon the Confederate States of America would be formed and the bloodiest war in American history would occur

Buchanan would be succeeded by a statesman and the first Republican President and whom had to face the challenge of Civil War.

 

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