James Buchanan, 15th President Of The United States

James Buchanan saw the United States splinter and erupt into a full-fledged Civil War.

The 1856 Federal Elections in the United States came at the heels of contentions regarding the Kansas-Nebraska Act which was meant to settle the Nebraska territory. The sitting President then, Franklin Pierce, was not keen on addressing the issues raised by slaves in the Nebraska Territory. During the passing of this Kansas-Nebraska Act, President Pierce used threats and intimidation on Democrats leading to disunity in the party. Though the bill passed, the damage had been done to Pierce presidency. His government became unpopular, especially in the North. Though he was sure of a re-election, his supporters were not convinced he would get a second term in office. This assumption was because his opponent had gained popularity among the Democrats as well. James Buchanan won the party’s nominations and subsequently won the 1856 presidential elections becoming the US 15th President.

Buchanan’s Early Life

James Buchanan was born to a merchant, farmer, and businessperson, James Buchanan, Sr., and his Elizabeth in 1791 in Pennsylvania. James went to Old Stone Academy and later joined Dickson Collage where he was always on the wrong side of the law. In 1809, he moved to Lancaster having graduated with honors. In Lancaster he studied law and three years later, he got an admission to the bar. James Buchanan never married but was initially engaged to Ann Caroline Coleman, who passed on after he broke the engagement due to his busy life especially at his law offices.

Buchanan the Politician

Buchanan was elected to the House of Representatives under the Federalist Party from 1814 to 1816. He was later elected to the Congress in 1821 where he served for ten years. During his time in the Congress, he was appointed the chairman of the house committee on judiciary. In 1834 he was elected to the Senate where he served up to 1845 when he resigned to take up the position of the Secretary of state during the presidency of James Polk. During his time as the Secretary of State, he was very instrumental in the establishment of Oregon Treaty of 1846. In fact, Buchanan became the first Secretary of state to ascend to the presidency. In 1856, Buchanan was selected by the Democrats as their presidential flag bearer subsequently winning the main election. His inauguration to office was on March 4, 1857. During his inauguration, he made it clear that he will be a first term president because he felt he was too old to serve another term. He also referred the territorial matter to the Supreme Court for a speedy resolution. Buchanan kept his promise and was in office for only one term handing over power on March 4, 1861.


Buchanan did not retire without drama. With just two months to the end of his term, civil war erupted in the US. Surprisingly Buchanan openly supported this civil war urging his fellow Democrats to join in the war because it was a show of patriotism. However, he had to carry the blame for this war for the rest of his life. Buchanan died at the age of 77 in 1868.

James Buchanan, 15th President Of The United States

Party AffiliationDemocrat
BirthplaceCove Gap, Pennsylvania
Date of BirthApril 23rd, 1791
Date of DeathJune 1st, 1868
Start of TermMarch 4th, 1857
End of TermMarch 4th, 1861
Vice PresidentJohn C. Breckinridge
Major Conflicts Involved InStart of the Civil War; Unrest in Utah
Preceded byFranklin Pierce
Succeeded byAbraham Lincoln
First LadyNone

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