64 Interesting Facts about James Buchanan

James Buchanan was the 15th President of the United States, serving from 1857 to 1861. He was born in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania, on April 23, 1791, and grew up in a wealthy family. He attended Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and later studied law in Lancaster. Buchanan was admitted to the bar in 1812 and quickly became a prominent attorney in Pennsylvania.

Buchanan began his political career in 1814, when he was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He later served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. In 1845, President James K. Polk appointed Buchanan as his Secretary of State, and he played a key role in negotiating the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War.

In 1856, Buchanan was nominated as the Democratic Party’s candidate for president, and he won the election in a close race. However, his presidency was marked by turmoil, including the Dred Scott decision, which upheld the legality of slavery, and the growing tensions between the North and South over the issue of slavery. Buchanan tried to maintain the status quo and avoid conflict, but his efforts were unsuccessful. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected president, and the Southern states began seceding from the Union.

Buchanan’s presidency has been widely criticized by historians, who argue that his inaction and reluctance to confront the issue of slavery contributed to the outbreak of the Civil War. Despite this, Buchanan remained active in politics after leaving office and continued to speak out against secession and in support of the Union. He died on June 1, 1868, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and is buried in Woodward Hill Cemetery in that city.

James Buchanan

James Buchanan

Do you want to know more about James Buchanan? Let’s take a look at these 64 interesting facts about him.

  1. James Buchanan was born on April 23, 1791, in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania.
  2. His father, James Buchanan Sr., was a successful merchant and farmer.
  3. Buchanan was the second of eleven children.
  4. He attended Old Stone Academy in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, before enrolling at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1807.
  5. Buchanan graduated from Dickinson College in 1809.
  6. He studied law under James Hopkins in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
  7. Buchanan was admitted to the bar in 1812.
  8. He briefly served in the Pennsylvania militia during the War of 1812.
  9. Buchanan practiced law in Lancaster and quickly became a prominent attorney in Pennsylvania.
  10. Buchanan was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1814.
  11. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1821 to 1831.
  12. Buchanan was appointed U.S. Minister to Russia by President Andrew Jackson in 1832.
  13. He served as U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania from 1834 to 1845.
  14. Buchanan was appointed U.S. Secretary of State by President James K. Polk in 1845.
  15. He played a key role in negotiating the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War.
  16. Buchanan was nominated as the Democratic Party’s candidate for president in 1856.
  17. He won the election in a close race against John C. Fremont and Millard Fillmore.
  18. Buchanan was the only president who never married.
  19. Buchanan’s presidency was marked by growing tensions between the North and South over the issue of slavery.
  20. He was a strong believer in states’ rights and tried to maintain the status quo by allowing the states to decide for themselves whether to allow slavery.
  21. Buchanan supported the Dred Scott decision, which upheld the legality of slavery.
  22. He tried to purchase Cuba from Spain, but the plan was not successful.
  23. Buchanan vetoed the Homestead Act, which would have provided free land to settlers in the West.
  24. He sent federal troops to Utah to suppress the Mormon rebellion.
  25. Buchanan’s presidency was also marked by economic turmoil, including the Panic of 1857.
  26. He was the last president to be born before the United States declared independence.
  27. Buchanan was the only president from Pennsylvania.
  28. He was the first president to have his photograph taken while in office.
  29. Buchanan was a staunch supporter of the Union and opposed secession.
  30. Buchanan’s vice president was John C. Breckinridge.
  31. Buchanan’s cabinet included future Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
  32. Buchanan was known for his elegant and refined manners.
  33. He was an accomplished horseman and enjoyed riding throughout his life.
  34. Buchanan was a member of the Presbyterian Church.
  35. He was a Freemason.
  36. Buchanan was fluent in French.
  37. He was an avid reader and collected books throughout his life.
  38. Buchanan was an early advocate of women’s rights and supported the right of women to vote in school board elections.
  39. Buchanan was a bachelor throughout his life, but he was rumored to have had romantic relationships with several men.
  40. Buchanan was known for his elaborate wardrobe and frequently wore clothing made from imported fabrics.
  41. He was a supporter of the American Colonization Society, which sought to resettle freed slaves in Africa.
  42. After leaving office, Buchanan retired to Wheatland, his estate in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
  43. He remained active in politics and continued to support the Democratic Party.
  44. Buchanan supported the Union during the Civil War, but he opposed President Abraham Lincoln’s policies, including the Emancipation Proclamation.
  45. Buchanan believed that the South had a right to secede from the Union.
  46. Buchanan corresponded with Confederate leaders during the Civil War, which led to criticism of his loyalty to the Union.
  47. Buchanan’s health declined in his later years, and he suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments.
  48. He died on June 1, 1868, at the age of 77, at Wheatland.
  49. Buchanan is buried at Woodward Hill Cemetery in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
  50. Buchanan’s will left Wheatland to his niece, Harriet Lane, who had served as his hostess during his presidency.
  51. Harriet Lane was the daughter of Buchanan’s sister and had been adopted by him.
  52. Harriet Lane lived at Wheatland until her death in 1903, and she bequeathed the estate to the Lancaster County Historical Society.
  53. The James Buchanan Foundation was established in 2009 to promote scholarship and education about Buchanan’s life and legacy.
  54. Buchanan was known for his wit and humor, and he was a skilled storyteller.
  55. He was an early advocate of the transcontinental railroad and supported its construction.
  56. Buchanan was the last president to wear a powdered wig in public.
  57. Buchanan was also the last president to have been born in the 18th century.
  58. Buchanan was known for his love of fine food and wine, and he often hosted lavish dinner parties at Wheatland.
  59. Buchanan was an early proponent of free trade and supported the reduction of tariffs.
  60. Buchanan’s vice president, John C. Breckinridge, would later serve as a Confederate general during the Civil War.
  61. Buchanan’s Secretary of State, Lewis Cass, had previously served as the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in 1848.
  62. Buchanan was the first president to have been born in Pennsylvania.
  63. Buchanan was a member of the American Philosophical Society, the oldest learned society in the United States.
  64. Buchanan’s presidency is often considered to be one of the worst in American history due to his handling of the growing tensions between the North and South over the issue of slavery.

James Buchanan was a complex figure in American history, who served as the 15th President of the United States during a tumultuous period in the country’s history. Despite his many accomplishments as a lawyer, diplomat, and public servant, Buchanan’s presidency is often remembered for his failure to prevent the secession of Southern states and the outbreak of the Civil War. However, his legacy is also marked by his advocacy for free trade, his support for the construction of the transcontinental railroad, and his wit and humor. Buchanan’s life and career are a reminder of the challenges and complexities of leadership in times of crisis and change, and his story continues to be studied and debated by historians and scholars today.

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