James Buchanan
Served 1857-1861

James Buchanan was born April 23, 1791, in a log cabin at Cove Gap, near Mercersburg, Pennsylvania

Buchanan served as a five-term Congressman, as a foreign diplomat who twice represented the United States, in Russia (1832-1834) and in England (1855-1856), as a two-term Senator, and as Polk‘s Secretary of State. After his successes as a diplomat and his eagerness to make American a more powerful force overseas, and his absence from the debates against slavery, he was elected the 15th President of the United States. His Vice President was John C. Breckenridge, and he was from the Democratic Party.

Next PageHe was affectionately known to many as “Old Buck.” Minnesota, Oregon, and Kansas became the 32nd, 33rd, and 34th states admitted to the Union. The admission of Kansas on January 29, 1861, was extremely controversial, as Buchanan proposed it as a slave state.

Buchanan was the only President never to marry. Before his White House years, his fiancee died, and he vowed never to marry. During many of his years, especially at the White House, his niece Harriet Lane became served as his hostess and became quite popular.

Buchanan had a difficult Presidency. He vetoed every bill passed by the Republican majority in Congress 1859-1861. His struggles to avoid war between the states made him many enemies, so he did not run for a second term. Late in his term, the Civil War was imminent when southern states insisted they would secede. Before Buchanan left office, seven states beginning with South Carolina seceded.

Buchanan died June 1, 1868.

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