1804 - 1869
The storm of frenzy and faction must inevitably dash itself in vain against the unshaken rock of the Constitution. I shall never doubt it. Third Annual Message
Franklin Pierce, the 14th President of the United States, came to office during a period of growing tension between the North and South. A politician of limited ability, Pierce was behind one of the most crucial pieces of legislation in American history. Although he did not author the Kansas-Nebraska Act, he did encourage its passage by Congress. And that piece of legislation set the nation on its path to civil war.
Hillsborough (now Hillsboro), New Hampshire
Bowdoin College (graduated 1824)
Lawyer, Public Official
"Young Hickory of the Granite Hills"
November 19, 1834, to Jane Means Appleton (1806–1863)
Franklin (1836); Frank Robert (1839–1843); Benjamin (1841–1853)
Old North Cemetery, Concord, New Hampshire
How Kansas crises undid the presidencies of Pierce and Buchanan
From our Historical Presidency Series, historian Michael Holt describes the struggles of the Kansas issue
What time is it?
Political scientist Stephen Skowronek places presidents such as Pierce in a larger context