Buchanan tried desperately to hold the Union together, but it fell apart as his presidency came to an end in 1860. A strict Constitutionalist, he tried with his appointments and legislative agenda to avoid civil war. The situation was note helped when the Dred Scott decision was issued by the Supreme Court (the Chief Justice of the Court was Roger Taney, who had a connection to Buchanan - does anyone other than J in PA know what it is?) two days after Buchanan took office.
Historians generally look upon Buchanan's failure to deal with the secession crisis as the worst presidential mistake ever made. With that and his other presidential achievements, leadership qualities, failures and faults (such as corruption), James Buchanan's ranking places him among the two or three worst Presidents in history (sorry J in PA).
- Born April 23, 1791 near Mercersburg, Pennsylvania
- Died June 1, 1868 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (age 77)
- Party - Democrat
- James Buchanan (D) - 1,836,072 popular votes / 174 electoral votes
- John C. Fremont (R) - 1,342,345 popular votes / 114 electoral votes
- Millard Fillmore (Know-Nothings) - 873,053 popular votes / 11 electoral votes
- The 1856 election was the first contest between Democrats and Republicans, with the Republican party having been established in 1856.
- While Buchanan served in many elective and appointed offices (including as James Polk's Secretary of State), he turned down an appointment as Supreme Court Justice from Polk.
- Buchanan is the last Secretary of State to become president, ending the prominence of that role in the cabinet as a step to the presidency.
- As Buchanan was not married, he asked his niece, Harriet Lane, to serve as first lady.
- As the country began to spiral into civil war, Buchanan actually believed he would be the last president of the United States. He is alleged to have said to Abraham Lincoln on March 4, 1861 (Inauguration Day), "My dear, sir, if you are as happy on entering the White House as I on leaving, you are a very happy man indeed."
- White House Biography
- Miller Center Biography
- Internet Public Library Biography
- C-SPAN biography
- Mr. Buchanan's Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion by James Buchanan, the first presidential memoir.
- Buchanan's obituary from the New York Times.
- Wheatland, Buchanan's home in Lancaster, PA (I saw the sign for it, but didn't go).
- James Buchanan is a graduate of Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA and also served as President of the Board of Trustees of Franklin and Marshall College in his hometown of Lancaster. Taney is an alum of Dickinson as well.