Born on April 23, 1791 in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania to James Buchanan Sr. (a businessman/merchant/farmer), and Elizabeth Speer (an educated woman), James Buchanan was set up for a very successful life. Buchanan went to public school for the majority of his life, starting at the Old Stone Academy where he academically excelled and took an interest in studying languages. After finishing up high school, he attended Dickinson College, and graduated with honors on September 19,1809. Later Buchanan apprenticed with James Hopkins, a prominent lawyer, and was admitted to the bar shortly after. Buchanan handled various types of cases as a lawyer and was making an $11,000.00 salary at the time (equivalent to over $200,000.00 today).
Later Buchanan showed interest in politics and began his political career serving on The House of Representatives as a Federalist. Buchanan was later elected to the United States Senate where he was appointed to the Committee of Agriculture and worked primarily on internal improvements. After doing such a great job, he was offered and accepted the position of ambassador to Russia. After seamlessly securing foreign affairs with Russia, he went to serve as the ambassador to the United Kingdom where he specialized in land division between both countries. Buchanan decided to run for president in 1856, and tirelessly campaigned across the nation. Buchanan ended up winning with 174 electoral college votes.
Buchanan was sworn in on March 4th, 1857 and started working on internal adjustments immediately. However, Buchanan was faced with the Dredd Scott Case where he decided on a “ Supreme Court decision protecting slavery in the territories could lay the issue to rest once and for all, allowing the country to focus on other issues, including the possible annexation of Cuba and the acquisition of more Mexican territory.” Buchanan was later faced with the Utah War, and successfully led the American people through it and made sure federal power was taken seriously. Amongst all the issues faced early on in Buchanan’s presidency he was still able to seamlessly deal with foreign affairs and to some degree expand on U.S. territory.
Unfortunately, Buchanan was not elected for a second term and in his retirement, he remained semi-involved in politics (primarily showing his support for the union). Buchanan passed away on June 1, 1868 from a common cold at the age of 77. It is safe to say Buchanan left a legacy on the nation we’ll certainly never forget.