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Favorable or Unfavorable #102: James Buchanan


Favorable or Unfavorable #102: James Buchanan  

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  2. 2. Favorable or Unfavorable #102: James Buchanan

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Pres. James Buchanan of PA started out his career as a Federalists but supported Jackson when his state went wild for him. 

Two things need to be elaborated on: 1) His 1836 opposition to the gag rule had nothing to do with abolitionism, obviously. He thought that it would actually increase support or abolitionists. This was one of his wisest moments, he lost almost all wisdom as president. 2) Only kind of captured here is Buchanan's strong anti-Douglas feelings. He hated Douglas more than he hated the GOP, secession threats, etc. If you read any in depth account about him, it is unbelievable how much he'll interfere and otherwise put energy into thwarting or weakening Douglas. He doesn't put 1% of the energy into resolving sectional crises, bank panics, clearing out his administrations corruption, etc. 

Another thing that could have been an action is his cabinet appointments. It was an entirely pro-South cabinet with many Southerners, and every single one (except for maybe Sec of War Floyd) a yes-man. He did not take second opinions, did not like being contradicted, and he did not treat any non-Buchananite Democrat as if they were also a Democrat. I think he might be the only incumbent president to lose control of his party to another faction within the party. Douglas was arguably party leader from 1858 on, hence his near total support among incumbent Democrats outside of the South in 1860. If Lincoln was going to be defeated in 1860, it would have required Buchanan endorsing Douglas to encourage the South to do the same, but Lincoln might have won anyway based on Buchanan's blunderings. 

Also not captured below, because I couldn't find specific dates, is that Buchanan was wanting to take Alaska, Cuba, and two states of Mexico. GOP shut down much of his aggressive foreign policy. 

His actions:

Buchanan, James 1824 A leader among Pro-Jackson Federalists, although he initially supported Clay
Buchanan, James 1828 Aided in building a party around Jackson
Buchanan, James 1832 Appt Amb to Russia for Jackson
Buchanan, James 1836 Opposes gag rule sponsored by Calhoun to censor abolitionists
Buchanan, James 1842 Opposes Webster-Ashburton Treaty as surrendering land to UK
Buchanan, James 1844 candidate for Demo pres nom
Buchanan, James 1845 appointed Sec of State for Polk
Buchanan, James 1846 Declines offer to take SC position vacated by Baldwin's death, after Woodward is rejected.
Buchanan, James 1846 Urges Polk to seek entire Oregon Territory, but Polk seeks a compromise
Buchanan, James 1846 Plays a leading role in Oregon Treaty
Buchanan, James 1846 Public opposition to Wilmot Proviso earns him support of pro-Slavery South
Buchanan, James 1847 Plays a leading role in treaty ending Mexican War, although he urges taking more territory
Buchanan, James 1848 Democratic candidate for Pres
Buchanan, James 1852 seeks Demo pres nom; declines VP offer
Buchanan, James 1853 Appt Amb to UK for Pierce
Buchanan, James 1854 Involved in controversial Ostend Manifesto and likely author of it
Buchanan, James 1856 Wins 1856 elections
Buchanan, James 1857 Despite urgings, refuses to retain Marcy as Sec of State as too close to Pierce
Buchanan, James 1857 Used influence to interfere w/ Dred Scot decision while as pres-elect and as pres to defend slavery
Buchanan, James 1857 Sends army to Utah to removed Brigham Young as Terr. Gov., sparking Utah War
Buchanan, James 1857 Removes Northern Dems allied to either Pierce or Douglas, alienating them both
Buchanan, James 1857 Presides during Panic of 1857, arguing against relief and leaving the crisis to the states
Buchanan, James 1857 Endorses pro-slavery Lecompton Const. in KS
Buchanan, James 1858 Endorses the English Bill; KS gains statehood if accepts Lecompton Const.
Buchanan, James 1858 Buchanan's influence on Const makes him seen as "pawn of Slave Power" to Northerners
Buchanan, James 1858 1st Trans-Atlantic telegram (btwn Buchanan and Queen Victoria)
Buchanan, James 1858 Loses majority of support of Dem Party to Douglas after midterm elections
Buchanan, James 1858 Orders Paraguay Expedition
Buchanan, James 1858 Presided as MN becomes a state
Buchanan, James 1859 Calls for Federal Slave Code
Buchanan, James 1859 Presided as OR becomes a state
Buchanan, James 1859 Publicly blames Abolitonists for raid on Harpers Ferry
Buchanan, James 1859 Calls for withdrawl of paper currency from banks amid ongoing Panic of 1857
Buchanan, James 1859 Vetoes Land Grand Act, arguing that there are "too many educated people."
Buchanan, James 1860 Covode Commit. invest exposes corruption of Buchanan admin but won't impeach
Buchanan, James 1860 Follows through with his one-term pledge
Buchanan, James 1860 Supports Southern Dems forming own party; endorses Breckinridge for pres
Buchanan, James 1860 Supports Corwin Amendment
Buchanan, James 1860 Vetoes Homestead Act
Buchanan, James 1860 Presides during secession of Southern states
Buchanan, James 1860 Persuaded by Sec of War Floyd (a Southerner) not to reinforce forts in the South amid crisis
Buchanan, James 1860 Waffles on a decisive plan in response to secession crisis
Buchanan, James 1860 In speech argues that states cannot legally secede but that the Fed Gov't can't stop them from doing it either
Buchanan, James 1861 Presided as KS becomes a state
Buchanan, James 1861 Orders supplies to reinforce Ft Sumter, but the ship has to turn back as it is unprotected
Buchanan, James 1861 After threats of resignation, opts not to order a withdrawl of Ft Sumter
Buchanan, James 1861 Signs the Morrill Tariff, a Rep protect. tariff, only because it helped his homestate
Buchanan, James 1861 Endorses the Union war effort once it begins
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Not favorable of him, but he's a lot better post-presidency and pre-presidency... I admire the respect he had for incoming President Lincoln, and he was quite saddened when he heard Lincoln had been killed. 

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