James Buchanan

James Buchanan Jr. ( ; April 23, 1791June 1, 1868) was an American lawyer, diplomat, and politician who served as the 15th president of the United States from 1857 to 1861. Buchanan also served as the secretary of State from 1845 to 1849 and represented Pennsylvania in both houses of the U.S. Congress. He was an advocate for states' rights, particularly regarding slavery, and minimized the role of the federal government preceding the Civil War.

Buchanan was a lawyer in Pennsylvania and won his first election to the state's House of Representatives as a Federalist. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1820 and retained that post for five terms, aligning with Andrew Jackson's Democratic Party. Buchanan served as Jackson's minister to Russia in 1832. He won the election in 1834 as a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and continued in that position for 11 years. He was appointed to serve as President James K. Polk's secretary of state in 1845, and eight years later was named as President Franklin Pierce's minister to the United Kingdom.

Beginning in 1844, Buchanan became a regular contender for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. He was nominated and won the 1856 presidential election. As President, Buchanan intervened to assure the Supreme Court's majority ruling in the pro-slavery decision in the ''Dred Scott'' case. He acceded to Southern attempts to engineer Kansas' entry into the Union as a slave state under the Lecompton Constitution, and angered not only Republicans but also Northern Democrats. Buchanan honored his pledge to serve only one term and supported Breckinridge's unsuccessful candidacy in the 1860 presidential election. He failed to reconcile the fractured Democratic Party amid the grudge against Stephen Douglas, leading to the election of Republican and former Congressman Abraham Lincoln.

Buchanan's leadership during his lame duck period, before the American Civil War, has been widely criticized. He simultaneously angered the North by not stopping secession and the South by not yielding to their demands. He supported the Corwin Amendment in an effort to reconcile the country. He made an unsuccessful attempt to reinforce Fort Sumter, but otherwise refrained from preparing the military. In his personal life, Buchanan never married and was the only U.S. president to remain a lifelong bachelor, leading some historians and authors to question his sexual orientation. His failure to forestall the Civil War has been described as incompetence, and he spent his last years defending his reputation. Historians and scholars rank Buchanan as among the worst presidents in American history. Provided by Wikipedia