James Buchanan: The 15th Retrospective
“Whatcha got ain’t nothin new. This country’s hard on people, you can’t stop what’s coming, it ain’t all waiting on you. That’s vanity.” – Ellis, No Country for Old Men (2007)
James Buchanan had been a congressman, foreign minister, senator and secretary of state, The actions he took during his Presidency probably hastened the coming of the Civil War. Some would even call them treasonous. Upon leaving the presidency, Buchanan told Lincoln “if you are as happy to be entering the presidency as I am to be leaving it, then you are a very happy man.” Unbeknownst to the public, Buchanan purchased slaves and sent them north granting them their freedom before leaving the Presidency.
First Gay President?
Buchanan never married and is still the country’s only bachelor president. He had an intimate relationship with Pierce’s Vice President William Rufus King who he lived with for 16 years. The two were referred to as “aunt nannies”, and King was part of a circle of men whom were referred to as “dandies”. In fact, Buchanan’s niece Harriet Lane was the White House hostess and was termed the “first lady” for the duties she assumed in the White House.
A House Divided
Buchanan’s decision to endorse the Constitution written by pro slavery settlers in Kansas made him seem pro-south and enraged the north. A president trying to force slavery into a territory where settlers didn’t want it discredited Buchanan in the eyes of both Republicans and even Northern Democrats. Buchanan’s actions are so pro-south, that he did not take the traditional oath “to preserve, defend and protect the United States” His management of the battle in Kansas only made things worse.
The Ultimate Lame Duck
Slavery couched in the mantra of states rights was the key issue in the election of 1860 that Abraham Lincoln won on November 6th. It would be a matter of months before the south would lose their ally in the White House. In anticipation of the election of an anti-slavery president, South Carolina seceded from the union on December, 20 1860. As a lame duck, Buchanan denied the legality of secession but did nothing to stop it. Within weeks, six more states left the union and eight slaveholding states sat on the fence becoming border states. On February 9th, 1861, the Confederate States of America, now composed of seven states, elected Jefferson Davis president. One month later, the Buchanan presidency ended.
This was the pinnacle of bitching in our nation’s history. In anticipation of government not being able to wholly endorse their side of a moral issue, citizens decided that the Republic should be no more. The believers in the preservation of the union that the founding fathers envisioned could not and would not let that stand.
Abraham Lincoln would follow him.
Franklin Pierce preceded him.
It all started with George Washington.