w


Shop the
USHistorySite Store


DONATE


US History Site blog


History to 1783
Native Americans
Columbus' Voyage
Exploration & Discovery
Jamestown
Salem Witch Trials
Original 13 Colonies
Thomas Jefferson
Ben Franklin
US Revolution
War for Independence
Signers of the Declaration

1781 - 1850
Drafting/Ratifying the Constitution
Federalist Papers
Launching a New Nation
George Washington
War of 1812
Andrew Jackson
Reform Movements
Underground Railroad

1825-1877
Westward Expansion
Oregon Trail
Mexican American War
Slavery/Politics/Division
Civil War
Lincoln
Gettysburg Address
Reconstruction

1876 - 1917
Industrialization
Immigration/Urbanization

1890-1920
Teddy Roosevelt
Imperialism
The First World War
Woodrow Wilson/Peace

1920-1940
Isolationism
The Roaring 20s
Harlem Renaissance
Great Depression
The New Deal
FDR

1931-1960
World War II
The Holocaust
Korean War
Harry Truman

1954-1975
The Turbulent 1960s
Kennedy and the Cold War
Martin Luther King
Vietnam Era


1968-Present

Nixon/Watergate
Gerald Ford
Reaganomics

Trusted writing service A-Writer

Our Global History
A World History Blog


AMERICAN HISTORY
TIMELINES


PICTURES IN
AMERICAN HISTORY


GAMES/ TOYS


WEBQUESTS

TESTS AND QUIZZES

PRESIDENTIAL
QUOTES


HOMEWORK HELP

FAMOUS AMERICAN
QUOTES


TOP 100 SPEECHES

MAPS

PRIMARY
DOCUMENTS

BASEBALL HISTORY

HISTORY LINKS

AMERICAN POLITICS

TEACHER'S
RESOURCES


SITE MAP


Sites for teachers

history top 100 websites

Teacher web sites

Join the USHistorySite group on Facebook


Franklin Pierce Biography

Lesson Plans |

So much wasted opportunity. Like Millard Fillmore before him, Franklin Pierce (November 23, 1804 – October 8, 1869) went from prominence in his home state to success in Congress to a presidency widely regarded as one of the worst in US history. Such a failure was he as President that his own party refused to nominate him for re-election. Pierce suffered personal distress as well. He watched his 11-year-old son die in a gruesome train wreck a mere two months before he entered the presidency; his other two children had also died in childhood, the first surviving only a few days. His grief-stricken wife Jane held profound disdain for his political career and became known as the “Shadow of the White House.” The alcoholic Pierce seemed to have no shortage of pain to drink away and, fittingly, died of cirrhosis of the liver.

The first President born in the 19th century, Franklin Pierce was born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire – thus far the only President from that state. His father Benjamin was a Revolutionary War soldier and, in Franklin’s adulthood, Governor of New Hampshire; much later, Franklin’s distant cousin Barbara Pierce became First Lady Barbara Bush. Franklin began the practice of law in 1827 and spent the years 1829-33 in the State House, holding the post of Speaker from 1832-33. Benjamin’s second term as Governor coincided with Franklin’s service in the State House. In 1833, Franklin entered the US House of Representatives for four years, followed by five years as a US Senator. Jane urged him to resign and return home, so he resumed his legal career and even became US Attorney for the District of New Hampshire from 1845-47. He was offered the Democratic nomination for Governor and President Polk appointed him US Attorney General, but he declined both. He served in the Mexican-American War, attaining the rank of brigadier general, and then was president of New Hampshire’s state constitutional convention in 1850.

Democrat Pierce was a genuine “dark horse” candidate in the 1852 presidential election, but he won an astonishing electoral victory over Whig Winfield Scott. Whatever successes Pierce’s administration could claim were and still are overshadowed by the monumental failures. The Gadsden Purchase was a great example. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis – yes, that Jefferson Davis – had impressed upon Pierce the importance of acquiring new land for a southern transcontinental railroad. At Pierce’s behest, James Gadsden purchased land from Mexico encompassing parts of present-day Arizona and New Mexico. But to many northerners, this showed the northern Pierce acting on behalf of southern interests, feeding directly into sectional discord over slavery. Or, take the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the brainchild of Senator Stephen Douglas, who convinced Pierce to support it. The Act was intended to organize the Kansas and Nebraska territories to make way for a transcontinental railroad from Chicago. However, the Act repealed the Missouri Compromise in favor of popular sovereignty on slavery. Pro-and-anti-slavery factions flooded Kansas and literally fought it out; Pierce blundered his way through the “Bleeding Kansas” fiasco.

The Pierce administration’s attempts to play tough with European powers in Cuba and Central America were at best ineffective and at worst disastrous. The Perry Expedition to open up Japan to trade was successful, but Pierce could not even take full credit for that as it had started under Fillmore. Pierce left office disgraced, the Democratic Party rejecting him for the 1856 election. Strangely, he experienced a resurgence in popularity among Democrats but he wisely chose not to run again in 1860.


https://mail.google.com/mail/images/cleardot.gif



Franklin Pierce biography life facts information

President Quotes
Presidential Campaigns
President Biographies