US President James Buchanan Research Paper

Length: 5 pages Sources: 5 Subject: American History Type: Research Paper Paper: #42931265 Related Topics: Manifest Destiny, War Of 1812, The War Of 1812, United States History
Excerpt from Research Paper :

U.S. President James Buchanan

James Buchanan, fifteenth President of the United States (James Buchanan, n.d.), was born on April 23, 1791 in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania (BUCHANAN, James, (1791-1868), n.d.). He moved when he was five to Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. He was born into an affluent merchant family. He went to school at the Old Stone Academy prior to going to Dickinson College in 1807. He then learned law and was admitted to the bar in 1812. He began his career as a lawyer prior to combination the military to fight in the War of 1812. He was then selected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and then to the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1832, he was chosen by Andrew Jackson to be the Minister to Russia. He came back home to be a U.S. Senator in from 1834-35. In 1845, he was selected Secretary of State under President James K. Polk. In 1853-56, he served as President Pierce's Minister to Great Britain (Kelly, 2011).

In 1856, James Buchanan was designated as the Democratic candidate for president. He supported the right of people to hold slaves as constitutional. He ran in opposition to Republican candidate John C. Fremont and the least known candidate, former President Millard Fillmore. Buchanan won after a passionately challenged crusade and the risk of Civil War if the Republicans won. Buchanan withdrew to Pennsylvania where he was not caught up in public affairs. He supported Abraham Lincoln all through the Civil War. On June 1, 1868, Buchanan passed away of pneumonia (Kelly, 2011).

The Dred Scott court case took place at the start of his administration which affirmed that slaves were thought to be property. In spite of being in opposition to slavery himself, Buchanan felt that this case established the constitutionality of slavery. He battled for Kansas to be included in the union as a slave state but it was ultimately admitted as a free state in 1861. In 1857, a financial depression took place called the Panic of 1857. The North and West were hit hard but Buchanan took no act to assist to ease the depression. By the time he came up for reelection, Buchanan had chosen not to run again. He recognized that he had lost support, and he was incapable to end the troubles that would lead to secession (Kelly, 2011).

In November, 1860, Republican Abraham Lincoln was selected to the presidency directly causing seven states to break away from the Union shaping the Confederate States of America. Buchanan did not think that the federal government could compel a state to stay in the Union. Fearful of Civil War, he disregarded hostile action by the Confederate States and discarded Fort Sumter. He left office with the union separated (Kelly, 2011).

Buchanan thought the spirit of good self-government to be established on restraint. One of the maximum matters of the day was tariffs. Buchanan condemned both free trade and excessive tariffs, since either would help one area of the nation to the disadvantage of the other. Buchanan, like a lot of his time, was torn between his longing to enlarge the country for the advantage of all and his persistence on assuring the people settling in the expanded areas their rights, comprising slavery. Nonetheless, in regard to the aims of the distinctive slaveholder, he was rapid to offer the benefit of much reservation. In his third yearly message Buchanan claimed that the slaves were cared for with compassion and kindness (James Buchanan, 2011).

As the president Buchanan couldn't deal with the bad blood between North and South. His efforts to find a legalistic answer were never successful. By the election of 1860 Buchanan was weary of the presidency and did not try to get re-elected. Even though he was experienced in government and law, he was deficient in the valor to deal successfully with the slavery crisis, and he vacillated on the problem of Kansas's position as a slaveholding state. The resulting split inside his party permitted Abraham Lincoln to win the election of 1860. He condemned the secession of South Carolina subsequent to the election and sent support to Fort Sumter but was unsuccessful to react further to the growing crisis...


His biggest challenge was to resolve the Kansas disagreement and take away the matter of slavery's growth from national politics. Buchanan secluded himself from dissenting outlooks, disliked disagreement, never comprehended northern outlooks against slavery, and was exceptionally pro-southern in his outlook. These were all qualities that ultimately ruined his political power and wrecked his presidency (James Buchanan, 2011).

Buchanan thought he could grip the presidency by persuading support from Southern Democrats, so he lingered unwavering in his defense of states' rights, slavery and its addition into western territories, and forceful expansionism. However his bid for the Democratic nomination failed in 1848, when Lewis Cass of Michigan ran and lost to Zachary Taylor, the Whig candidate, and again in 1852, when Franklin Pierce won the Democratic nomination and the election. Buchanan anticipated that Pierce would name him secretary of state, but the new president as an alternative appointed him minister to Great Britain. Once again Buchanan's professed political friends had done well in getting him out of the country. In London, he could not stop thinking about Cuba. He traveled to Ostend, Belgium, in October 1854, where, with two other American ministers, he drew up a manifesto that called for the utilization of force by the U.S. To take ownership of the island. Inevitably, the Ostend Manifesto was disclosed to the press, giving rise to a gale of protest at home and overseas. Congress examined the diplomatic communication surrounding the document's conception, and Northern antislavery forces condemned it as nothing more than a Southern attempt to expand slavery into the Caribbean. The Pierce administration gave up its plans in regards to Cuba, but Buchanan kept yearning for the island, hoping that one day the United States would have it (LaFantasie, 2011).

Many historians have said that no president was better competent to serve in the White House than James Buchanan, given the enormous quantity of knowledge he had gained in chosen and appointed offices over the route of a long career in public service. In 1988, some experts said the same thing about George Herbert Walker Bush, who had served as vice president, ambassador, congressman and director of the CIA before winning the presidency. Too few experts, though, pointed out how injuriously unqualified George W. Bush was for the presidency (LaFantasie, 2011).

Recently some historians have attempted to rehabilitate Buchanan. Some believe that few of the men who have occupied the White House could have stood up to the challenge of the moment. This amounts to acknowledging that most presidents are average, and Buchanan should be excused for merely being more average than most of them. Yet Lincoln had no familiarity in leadership when he took the oath of office. And while it's accurate that he mishandled some things during his first weeks in office, he ultimately rose to the challenge of the moment. What differentiates Buchanan is not that his mistakes can or should be excused; it's that he completely lacked the ability to rise to the occasion, to do something when action was required, to guard the country exactly when it required defending. In the end he has become to be known as a terrible president (LaFantasie, 2011).

Buchanan's inept incompetency resulted in the worst national catastrophe, though the Civil War cannot completely be blamed on him. Other things, outside his mistakes, led to secession and war, and to some degree, when all's said and done; there was in all probability little he could have done to avert the cascade of Southern states that left the Union after South Carolina left in December 1860. Certainly, it's just likely that if he had attempted to force South Carolina to withdraw its secession, other Southern states might have seceded in even more quick order than they ended up doing. Buchanan might not have been able to alter the path of history or to stop the assault of Civil War, but many think he should have tried (LaFantasie, 2011).

Echoes of Buchanan's belief in the Manifest Destiny can still be seen today. In his 2004 State of the Union address, George W. Bush recast Buchanan's conviction in manifest destiny by saying that America is a country with a mission and that mission comes from the most fundamental viewpoints. He said that we have no longing to rule, no goals of being an empire. The country's goal is democratic peace. A peace based upon the self-respect and rights of every person. This was one of his reasons for why the United States had attacked Iraq without provocation. Buchanan's attitudes had landed the U.S. In the Middle East with no exit strategy. For Bush and Buchanan, there was merely no way to stay away from fate and destiny.…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

"BUCHANAN, James, (1791-1868)." Bio Guide Congress, n.d. Web. 3 May 2011.

"James Buchanan." Answers, 2011. Web. 29 April 2011.

"James Buchanan." Tulane, n.d. Web. 3 May 2011.

Kelly, Martin., 2011. "James Buchanan - Fifteenth President of the United States."
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