ShareThis Page
5 facts: James Buchanan, not the best president, but Pennsylvania’s only | TribLIVE.com
Pennsylvania

5 facts: James Buchanan, not the best president, but Pennsylvania’s only

Paul Guggenheimer
766806_web1_james-buchanan
America’s 15th President James Buchanan, photographed in the mid 1800s.

Despite Pennsylvania’s prominent role in the American Revolution and the founding of the United States — it even had the nation’s capital for a time — the Keystone State has produced only one U.S. president.

Meet James Buchanan.

Buchanan served as the 15th president of the United States from 1857 to 1861. Often referred to as a “doughface,” Buchanan was regarded as a northerner with southern sympathies in the days leading up to the Civil War.

In fact, Buchanan’s failure to adequately address the issue of slavery and the secession of southern states has led historians to blame him for bringing the nation to the brink of civil war.

Here now are five facts about Buchanan, Pennsylvania’s one and only president.

1. Old Glory: He was the last president to be born in the 18th century. Buchanan was born April 23, 1791, in Cove Gap in Franklin County. It is now Buchanan’s Birthplace State Park.

2. Wild child: Buchanan apparently had a wild streak in college. He attended Dickinson College in Carlisle, and according to author Phillip Shriver Klein, he was nearly expelled at one point for bad behavior. Only after pleading for a second chance, did Buchanan subsequently graduate with honors.

3. No first lady: He was the only president to remain a lifelong bachelor. This has led to plenty of speculation over the years about Buchanan’s personal life. His biographer Jean Baker argues that Buchanan was asexual or celibate. Other writers have suggested that he was homosexual.

4. The worst: Buchanan is consistently ranked as one of America’s worst presidents. In a 2006 Associated Press survey, historians voted his failure to deal with secession as the worst presidential mistake ever made.

5. Keeping promises: In his inaugural address on March 4, 1857, Buchanan stated that he would only serve one term, a promise he would keep.

Paul Guggenheimer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or [email protected].

Categories: News | Pennsylvania | Top Stories
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.