Miller Center

American President

James Buchanan (1791–1868)

Portrait of James Buchanan

Facts at a Glance

Term
15th President of the United States (1857–1861)
Born
April 23, 1791, Cove Gap (near Mercersburg), Pennsylvania
Nickname
“Old Buck”
Education
Dickinson College (graduated 1809)
Religion
Presbyterian
Marriage
None
Career
Lawyer
Political Party
Democrat
Writings
Mr. Buchanan’s Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion (1866); Works of James Buchanan (12 vols., 1908–1911), ed. by John Bassett Moore
Died
June 1, 1868, near Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Buried
Woodward Hill Cemetery, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
A Life in Brief
In the 1850s, the question of slavery divided the United States. Hopes ran high that the new President, “Old Buck,” might be the man to avert national crisis. He failed entirely. During his administration, the Union broke apart, and when he left office, civil war threatened. More »
Having determined not to become a candidate for reelection, I shall have no motive to influence my conduct in administering the Government except the desire ably and faithfully to serve my country and to live in grateful memory of my countrymen.
March 4, 1857

Essays on James Buchanan and His Administration

James Buchanan
A Life in Brief
Life Before the Presidency
Campaigns and Elections
Domestic Affairs
Foreign Affairs
Life After the Presidency
Family Life
The American Franchise
Impact and Legacy
Key Events
First Lady
Harriet Lane
Vice President
John C. Breckinridge (1857–1861)
Secretary of State
Lewis Cass (1857–1860)
Jeremiah S. Black (1860–1861)
Secretary of War
John B. Floyd (1857–1860)
Joseph Holt (1861–1861)
Postmaster General
Aaron V. Brown (1857–1859)
Joseph Holt (1859–1861)
Horatio King (1861–1861)
Secretary of the Interior
Jacob Thompson (1857–1861)
Secretary of the Treasury
Howell Cobb (1857–1860)
Philip F. Thomas (1860–1861)
John A. Dix (1861–1861)
Attorney General
Jeremiah S. Black (1857–1860)
Edwin M. Stanton (1860–1861)
Secretary of the Navy
Isaac Toucey (1857–1861)

Consulting Editor: William Cooper

Professor Cooper is the Boyd Professor of History at Louisiana State University. His writings include:

The American South: A History (with Thomas T. Terrill, McGraw-Hill College, 3d., 2002)

Jefferson Davis: American (Alfred A. Knopf, 2000)

Liberty and Slavery: Southern Politics to 1860 (Alfred A. Knopf, 1983)

The South and the Politics of Slavery (Louisiana State University Press, 1978)

The Conservative Regime: South Carolina, 1877–1890 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1968)