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)James Buchanan (1791-1868), America’s 15th president, was in office from 1857 to 1861. During his tenure, seven Southern states seceded from the Union and the nation teetered on the brink of civil war. A Pennsylvania native, Buchanan began his political career in his home state’s legislature and went on to serve in both houses of the U.S. Congress; he later became a foreign diplomat and U.S. secretary of state. Buchanan, a Democrat who was morally opposed to slavery but believed it was protected by the U.S. Constitution, was elected to the White House in 1856. As president, he tried to maintain peace between pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the government, but tensions only escalated. In 1860, after Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) was elected to succeed Buchanan, South Carolina seceded and the Confederacy was soon established. In April 1861, a month after Buchanan left office, the American Civil War (1861-1865) began.
Next in importance to the maintenance of the Constitution and the Union is the duty of preserving the Government free from the taint or even the suspicion of corruption. Public virtue is the vital spirit of republics, and history proves that when this has decayed and the love of money has usurped its place…the substance has departed forever. Inaugural Address.
Historians often label James Buchanan as one of the worst presidents in United States history. His presidency was marked with conflict, a conflict that had been brewing for over thirty years. Yet, Buchanan’s actions, and at times his inactions, aggravated sectional tensions to the point where the Union dissolved. (Source: www.battlefields.org)
)Serving as the fifteenth U.S. president (1857-61), James Buchanan spent his career in public service, both domestically and overseas. This guide provides access to digital materials, external websites, and a selected print bibliography.
Many historians rate America’s 15th chief executive, James Buchanan, as the most inept occupant of the White House due mainly to the fact that he took no action to unite a country sharply divided over the issue of slavery and did nothing to stop Southern states from seceding in ...read mor