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Mr. President

James Buchanan
Fifteenth President, 1857–1861

“If you are as happy,
my dear sir, on entering
this house as I am in leaving it and returning home, you are the happiest man in the country.”

—Said to Abraham Lincoln.

A Nation Torn:
A 42-year veteran of public office, Pennsylvania's James Buchanan faced unforeseen challenges almost immediately upon inauguration. During his first year in office, the Supreme Court issued its fateful Dred Scott decision, ruling that Congress could not ban slavery in the western territories. The decision greatly angered northern abolitionists. In 1859, abolitionist John Brown raided the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, hoping to ignite a massive slave uprising. He was later captured and executed. The entire episode futher inflamed tensions between the Noth and South. During the rest of Buchanan's administration, he presided over a rapidly dividing nation. Seven southern states left the Union during his last months in office.

Portrait by George P.A. Healy , 1859 . NPG.65.48 , Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery .

Fast Facts
Party: Democrat
Date of Birth: Saturday, April 23, 1791
Date of Death: Monday, June 1, 1868
Vice President: John C. Breckinridge
First Lady: never married

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