The Election of 1856
When James Buchanan (1791-1868) was elected in 1856, he was a) the last President born in the 18th century; b) had a good reputation and resume of accomplishment, and c) was a loyal Pennsylvania Democrat from a “free” state, but one who was personally sympathetic toward many of the southern issues.
A successful lawyer, state legislator, congressman, senator, cabinet member and diplomat, “Buck” had been shortlisted as a Democratic presidential candidate for a dozen years. But as a popular and successful Ambassador to Great Britain during the Pierce Administration (1853-57) he was out of the country for four very turbulent years.
Since it was a fact of political life that a “southerner” could never win the nomination let alone the election, the Democrats needed to look elsewhere. A Pennsylvanian, whose…
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