James Buchanan

president of the United States from 1857 to 1861

James Buchanan Jr. (April 23, 1791 – June 1, 1868) was an American politician who served as the 15th president of the United States.

James Buchanan, Jr.
15th President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1857 – March 3, 1861
Vice PresidentJohn C. Breckinridge
Preceded byFranklin Pierce
Succeeded byAbraham Lincoln
Personal details
Born(1791-04-23)April 23, 1791
Cove Gap, Pennsylvania
DiedJune 1, 1868(1868-06-01) (aged 77)
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Political partyDemocratic

He was the only president not to have married. His niece, Harriet Lane, stood in as First Lady. He was an experienced politician, and became president in 1857. His stances on slavery, and actions before the Civil War broke out, have been criticised by scholars.

In 1860, Buchanan announced that he would not be taking part in the election & supported Abraham Lincoln who eventually became president-elect just a week after his announcement in the 1860 election.

Historians rank Buchanan as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history.

Early life


James Buchanan was born on April 23, 1791 in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania, into a prosperous merchant family.[1] He had four sisters and three brothers, and studied at the Old Stone Academy before entering Dickinson College in 1807. There he studied law and was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar Association in 1812.

Buchanan was engaged to Anne C. Coleman, but she died early, and he never had children. He is the only U.S. president who was never married.[2][3]

Buchanan served in both the House and Senate, representing Pennsylvania, as well as the Minister to Russia, under Andrew Jackson, before stepping taking the presidential career.



During the beginning of his presidency, he called slavery an issue of "little importance". This was clearly not the case at the time; Northerners and Southerners were very divided on slavery, almost to the point of war.

The Supreme Court declared that African Americans were not American citizens and that the states were allowed to keep slavery legal. James Buchanan supported that decision because he did not want the pro-slavery states to stop being part of the United States.

Buchanan supported the rights of slave owners to keep their slaves and wanted Kansas to adopt a constitution that allowed slavery. Because of that, the Democratic Party was divided on that issue and after the 1858 Congressional election, there were more Republicans in Congress than Democrats. He did not get along with the Republicans.

He ordered troops to fight against Utah based on untrue information that Utah was planning a revolt. Buchanan later realized that he made a mistake and apologized.

During his term, the country was becoming more and more divided over the slavery issue. A few months before his term ended, some of the southern states decided that they were going to not be a part of the United States any more.

Buchanan believed that it was a bad thing, but he did nothing about it because he felt that using force against the south was against the Constitution. He did not even prepare the country for war.



At the end of his term, he left the next president, Abraham Lincoln, to face the greatest crises in United States history, the Civil War. James Buchanan died of respiratory failure in Lancaster Pennsylvania at age 77

Some historians think that Buchanan was the worst president of the United States in the history, because he did nothing to prevent the Civil war.[4]


  1. "Biography of James Buchanan, 15th President of the United States". ThoughtCo. December 1, 2009. Retrieved February 15, 2021.
  2. Klein, Philip Shriver (December 1955). "The Lost Love of a Bachelor President". American Heritage Magazine. 7 (1). Retrieved 2012-11-29.
  3. President James Buchanan at The White House.com
  4. Rottinghaus, Brandon; Vaughn, Justin S. (2018-02-19). "Opinion | How Does Trump Stack Up Against the Best — and Worst — Presidents?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-09-16.

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