James Buchanan

Died aged c. 77

James Buchanan Jr. (/bjuːˈkænən/ bew-KAN-ən; April 23, 1791 – June 1, 1868) was an American lawyer, diplomat and politician who served as the 15th president of the United States from 1857 to 1861. He previously served as secretary of state from 1845 to 1849 and represented Pennsylvania in both houses of the U.S. Congress. He was an advocate for states' rights, particularly regarding slavery, and minimized the role of the federal government preceding the Civil War. Buchanan was the last president born in the 18th century. Buchanan was a prominent lawyer in Pennsylvania and won his first election to the state's House of Representatives as a Federalist. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1820 and retained that post for five terms, aligning with Andrew Jackson's Democratic Party. Buchanan served as Jackson's minister to Russia in 1832. He won the election in 1834 as a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and continued in that position for 11 years. He was appointed to serve as President James K. Polk's secretary of state in 1845, and eight years later was named as President Franklin Pierce's minister to the United Kingdom. Beginning in 1844, Buchanan became a regular contender for the Democratic party's presidential nomination. He was finally nominated in 1856, defeating incumbent Franklin Pierce and Senator Stephen A. Douglas at the Democratic National Convention. He benefited from the fact that he had been out of the country as ambassador in London and had not been involved in slavery issues. Buchanan and running mate John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky carried every slave state except Maryland, defeating anti-slavery Republican John C. Frémont and Know-Nothing former president Millard Fillmore to win the 1856 presidential election. As President, Buchanan intervened to assure the Supreme Court's majority ruling in the pro-slavery decision in the Dred Scott case. He acceded to Southern attempts to engineer Kansas’ entry into the Union as a slave state under the Lecompton Constitution, and angered not only Republicans but also Northern Democrats. Buchanan honored his pledge to serve only one term and supported Breckinridge's unsuccessful candidacy in the 1860 presidential election. He failed to reconcile the fractured Democratic party amid the grudge against Stephen Douglas, leading to the election of Republican and former Congressman Abraham Lincoln. Buchanan's leadership during his lame duck period, before the American Civil War, has been widely criticized. He simultaneously angered the North by not stopping secession and the South by not yielding to their demands. He supported the ineffective Corwin Amendment in an effort to reconcile the country. He made an unsuccessful attempt to reinforce Fort Sumter, but otherwise refrained from preparing the military. His failure to forestall the Civil War has been described as incompetence, and he spent his last years defending his reputation. In his personal life, Buchanan never married and was the only U.S. president to remain a lifelong bachelor, leading some historians and authors to question his sexual orientation. Buchanan died of respiratory failure in 1868 and was buried in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he had lived for nearly 60 years. Historians and scholars often rank Buchanan as the worst president in American history.

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Family tree

Commemorated on 9 plaques

Bedford Springs. Medicinal values of these springs discovered about 1796. It soon became a leading resort visited by numerous notables. James Buchanan used the Springs as his summer White House while President.

Business U.S. 220, Bedford Springs, PA, United States where they stayed

Buchanan House. James Buchanan, lawyer, statesman, diplomat, 15th President of the U.S., born in Stony Batter, lived here 1796-1807. Sgt. Patrick Gass, carpenter for winter quarters on the Lewis & Clark expedition, 1803-06, worked here as an apprentice, 1794-95.

17 N Main St., Mercersburg, PA, United States where they lived (1796-1807)

Franklin County. Formed on September 9, 1784 from Cumberland County and named for Benjamin Franklin. Site of Falling Spring, noted limestone trout stream. Birthplace of James Buchanan, 15th President of the United States. Chambersburg, county seat, was laid out 1764.

County Courthouse, Memorial Square (N. Main St.), corner of U.S. 11 & 30, Chambersburg, PA, United States where they was born near (1791)

James Buchanan. President 1857-1861. Was born April 23, 1791, a half-mile from here. The cabin itself was moved to Mercersburg, 1850, and in 1925 to Chambersburg. In 1953, it was removed to The Mercersburg Academy campus where it may be seen.

PA 16W, @ fork of Stoney Batter & Buchanan Sts., at Buchanan State Park entrance, Cove Gap, PA, United States where they was born (1791)

First Presbyterian Church. Congregation traces its origin to 1742. The first regular pastor was Rev John D. Woodhull, Revolutionary patriot. First building completed here in 1770; present edifice dedicated 1851. James Buchanan, 15th President of the U.S., was a member.

140 E. Orange St., Lancaster, PA, United States where they worshipped

James Buchanan. Fifteenth President of the United States, lies buried at Woodward Hill Cemetery located five blocks to the south on Queen Street.

SE section of Square, Lancaster, PA, United States where they was buried near

James Buchanan. Lawyer, statesman, diplomat, and fifteenth President of United States, lies buried in this cemetery, about 350 yards southeast. His home, Wheatland, located on Marietta Avenue, is marked with a bronze tablet.

S. Queen St. at Woodward Hill Cemetery, Lancaster, PA, United States where they was buried (1868)

Wheatland. The home of James Buchanan, statesman, diplomat and the fifteenth President of the United States (1857-61), is located on Marietta Avenue, seven blocks south. Buchanan maintained Wheatland as his home from 1848 until he died there on June 1, 1868.

N. President Ave. near Harrisburg Pike, Lancaster, PA, United States where they lived near (1848-1868)

Ancestral home of James Buchanan President of the USA 1857-1861

, Deroran, United Kingdom where they was