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James Buchanan - 15th President of the United States


Portrait of Hon. James Buchanan (National Archives)
Portrait of Hon. James Buchanan (National Archives)


James Buchanan was the 15th (1857-1861) President of the United States. He was the only man to serve as President, who never married, and the only citizen of Pennsylvania to hold that office.

Buchanan was a Representative and a Senator from Pennsylvania. He was born at Cove Gap, near Mercersburg, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, on April 23, 1791. He moved to Mercersburg with his parents in 1799, was privately tutored and then attended the village academy and was graduated from Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. In 1809 he moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The same year he studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1812 and practiced in Lancaster. He was one of the first volunteers in the War of 1812 and served in the defense of Baltimore, Maryland. He was a member of the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives from 1814 to 1815. He was elected to the Seventeenth and to the four succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1821 - March 3, 1831). He was chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary (Twenty-first Congress). He was not a candidate for renomination in 1830. Buchanan served as one of the managers appointed by the House of Representatives in 1830 to conduct the impeachment proceedings against James H. Peck, judge of the United States District Court for the District of Missouri. Buchanan served as Minister to Russia from 1832 to 1834.

Buchanan was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of William Wilkins. He was reelected in 1837 and 1843 and served from December 6, 1834, until he resigned on March 5, 1845, to accept a Cabinet portfolio. He was chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations (Twenty-fourth through Twenty-sixth Congresses).

Buchanan served as Secretary of State in the Cabinet of President James Polk from 1845 to 1849, then as Minister to Great Britain from 1853 to 1856. He was elected as a Democrat President of the United States in 1856 and served from March 4, 1857, to March 3, 1861. He retired to his home "Wheatland," near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he died June 1, 1868. He was intered in Woodward Hill Cemetery, Lancaster, Pa.

 

 
Photographs and Documents of President James Buchanan



Hon. James Buchanan and Cabinet (National Archives)
Hon. James Buchanan and Cabinet (National Archives)





Message of President James Buchanan nominating his cabinet, including Lewis Cass as Secretary of State, Howell Cobb as Secretary of the Treasury, Jacob Thompson as Secretary of the Interior, John B. Floyd as Secretary of War, Isaac Toucey as Secretary of the Navy, Aaron V. Brown as Postmaster General, and General Jeremiah S. Black as Attorney General, 03/06/1857 (National Archives)
Message of President James Buchanan nominating his cabinet, including Lewis Cass as Secretary of State, Howell Cobb as Secretary of the Treasury, Jacob Thompson as Secretary of the Interior, John B. Floyd as Secretary of War, Isaac Toucey as Secretary of the Navy, Aaron V. Brown as Postmaster General, and General Jeremiah S. Black as Attorney General, 03/06/1857 (National Archives)





Hon. James Buchanan, sitting (National Archives)
Hon. James Buchanan, sitting (National Archives)

 
Quick Facts about President James Buchanan

Rank: 15th (1857-1861)
Followed: Franklin Pierce
Succeeded by: Abraham Lincoln
Date of Birth April 23, 1791
Place of Birth: Cove Gap, Pennsylvania
Date of Death: June 1, 1868
Place of Death: Wheatland, Pennsylvania
First Lady: Harriet Lane (niece)
Occupation: lawyer
Political Party: Democrat
Vice President: John Breckinridge


 
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