BUCHANAN, James

1791–1868

Biography

BUCHANAN, James, a Representative and a Senator from Pennsylvania and 15th President of the United States; born at Cove Gap, near Mercersburg, Franklin County, Pa., April 23, 1791; moved to Mercersburg, Pa., with his parents in 1799; was privately tutored and then attended the village academy; graduated from Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa., in 1809; moved to Lancaster, Pa., the same year; studied law; admitted to the bar in 1812 and practiced in Lancaster; was one of the first volunteers in the War of 1812 and served in the defense of Baltimore; member, State house of representatives 1814-1815; elected to the Seventeenth and to the four succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1821-March 3, 1831); chairman, Committee on the Judiciary (Twenty-first Congress); was not a candidate for renomination in 1830; one of the managers appointed by the House of Representatives in 1830 to conduct the impeachment proceedings against James H. Peck, judge of the United States District Court for the District of Missouri; Minister to Russia 1832-1834; elected as a Democrat (Jacksonian) to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of William Wilkins; reelected in 1837 and 1843 and served from December 6, 1834, until he resigned on March 5, 1845, to accept a Cabinet portfolio; chairman, Committee on Foreign Relations (Twenty-fourth through Twenty-sixth Congresses); Secretary of State in the Cabinet of President James Polk 1845-1849; Minister to Great Britain 1853-1856; elected as a Democrat as President of the United States in 1856 and served from March 4, 1857, to March 3, 1861; retired to his home "Wheatland," near Lancaster, Pa., where he died June 1, 1868; interment in Woodward Hill Cemetery, Lancaster, Pa.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

[ Top ]

External Research Collections

Amistad Research Center
Tulane University

New Orleans, LA
Papers: Correspondence in Amistad (Schooner) case collection, 1839-1968, on 6 microfilm reels of originals in various repositories. Finding aid.

Boston Public Library

Boston, MA
Papers: 15 items.

Brooklyn Historical Society

Brooklyn, NY
Papers: 3 items (1856,1857) in the Henry C. Murphy papers: http://dlib.nyu.edu/finding aids/html/bhs/arc_189_henry_murphy and 2 items (1856,1860) in the Henry Onderdonk papers, http://dlib.nyu.edu/finding aids/html/bhs/arc_045_henry_onderdon.

Cornell University
Rare Books and Manuscript Collections

Ithaca, NY
Papers: Correspondence in the Hugh White papers, 1750-1933; Elisha Camp papers, 1756-1879; and a James Buchanan receipt (June 18, 1808) listing expenses for books.

Crawford County Historical Society

Meadville, PA
Papers: 1 letter (1827) to Henry Baldwin; 1 letter (1830) to brother George; 1 letter (1839) to H. J. Huidekoper; 1 letter (1839) to J. Hoge; reply of John Davis of MA to Mr. Buchanan of PA; list of signatures (date unknown) of senatorial delegates, delegates at large, and congressional delegates; and announcement to representatives of the people of the United States in the Democratic Baltimore convention to be held June 1852. Finding aid.

Dickinson College Library

Carlisle, PA
Papers: 1808-1868. 427 items. Chiefly political correspondence, speeches, other papers, and a portrait.

Duke University
Special Collections Library

Durham, NC
Papers: In U.S. presidents' papers, 1753-1935. 202 items. Finding aid.

Franklin and Marshall College

Lancaster, PA
Papers: Correspondence (1822-1862) in the Reynolds family papers, 1765-1934. Includes 51 pieces of correspondence, primarily while minister to Russia.

Hagley Museum and Library

Grenville, DE
Papers: Correspondence in the Samuel Francis du Pont papers, 1812-1865.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: 1775-1868. 48 linear feet. Includes correspondence, drafts, documents, speeches, legal papers, printed matter, memorabilia, scrapbook, clippings, and biographical material, relating to all phases of his career, legal, political, and diplomatic. Also available on 60 microfilm reels. Finding aid.
Additional Papers: In the Cadwalader family papers, 1630-1900; Fayette County collection, 1764-1920; John Sergeant papers, 1783-1897; William Wagener Porter papers, 1770-1880; Joel Roberts Poinsett papers, 1785-1851; Frank B. Nead documents, 1663-1866; Ellis Lewis papers, 1810-1870; John Harris collection, 1687-1915; Peter Adolph Grotjan memoirs, 1844-1846; Gilpin family papers, 1727-1872; S.L. Fallon collection, 1684-1860; Lewis S. Coryell correspondence, 1806-1867; Buchanan Fund records, 1847-1848; Samuel Welsh collection, 1788-1864; Irvine family papers, 1777-1869; and Bradford family papers, 1747-1847.

Kentucky Historical Society

Frankfort, KY
Papers: 1 letter (1833) in the James Taylor family papers, 1783-1845. Describes court life in St. Petersburg.

Knox College
Seymour Library

Galesburg, IL
Papers: 1 letter (January 21, 1847) in Sang autograph collection, 1751-1954; and 1 letter (May 26, 1847) in Bookfellow Foundation autograph collection, 1793-1945.

Lancaster County Historical Society

Lancaster, PA
Papers: 1822-1862. 200 letters. Also material on loan from the James Buchanan Foundation for the Preservation of Wheatland.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division

Washington, DC
Papers: In papers of James Buchanan and Harriet Lane Johnston, 1825-1887. 2 feet. Chiefly correspondence of Buchanan (1829-1868), and letters received (1847-1887) by Harriet Lane Johnston, his niece and White House hostess. The Buchanan material includes information on Democratic politics in Pennsylvania and the nation, and drafts of letters to American ministers in London while he was serving as secretary of state. Available on 4 microfilm reels. Finding aid. Also 60 microfilm reels of papers at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Additional Papers: Correspondence in United States Commissioners of the City of Washington records, 1791-1869; Joseph Holt papers, 1817-1895; Louis McLane papers, 1795-1894; Nicholas Philip Trist papers, 1794-1873; Lucian Barbour papers, 1838-1977; Riggs family papers, 1763-1945; Andrew and John White Stevenson family papers, 1756-1882; Louis Eller Asher autograph collection, 1757-1918; Pope family papers, 1715-1906; and George Watterston papers, 1809-1866.

Massachusetts Historical Society

Boston, MA
Papers: Ca. 80 items (1827-1861) in various collections. Finding aid.

New Jersey Historical Society

Newark, NJ
Papers: Correspondence in Miscellaneous Manuscripts, 1664-1956.

New-York Historical Society

New York, NY
Papers: 1829-1865. 83 items. Includes personal, business, and political papers, autographed copy of his inaugural address, and memorabilia.

New York Public Library

New York, NY
Papers: 5 letters (June 14-December 18, 1832) in U.S. Treaties papers. Photostats of official correspondence as minister to Russia. Originals in the Russian Archives. Finding aid. Also letters in the Clymer family papers, 1675-1902. Finding aid. Advance notice required.

Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

Harrisburg, PA
Papers: Correspondence and patronage recommendations (1815-1856) in various collections. Finding aid.

Pennsylvania State University Libraries

University Park, PA
Papers: Miscellaneous items in various collections include cards, clippings, letters, and engravings.

Pierpont Morgan Library

New York, NY
Papers: 1816-1868. 22 items.

Princeton University
Seeley G. Mudd Library

Princeton, NJ
Papers: 1822-1864. 18 items.

Smithsonian Institution
Archives of American Art

Washington, DC
Papers: 1837-1867. 20 letters. Available on microfilm.

South Carolina Historical Society

Charleston, SC
Papers: Correspondence in James Conner papers, 1857-1890; and Robert Barnwell Rhett papers, 1825-1968.

State Historical Society of Wisconsin

Madison, WI
Papers: Correspondence in the Marvin Henry Bovee papers, 1850-1884, on 1 microfilm reel.

Temple University Libraries
Rare Book and Manuscript Collections

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: Correspondence in the Dallas family papers, 1794-1865.

University of Michigan
William L. Clements Library

Ann Arbor, MI
Papers: In U.S. president papers, 1776-1945.

University of North Carolina
Southern Historical Collection

Chapel Hill, NC
Papers: Correspondence in Weldon Nathaniel Edwards papers, 1816-1870.

University of Virginia
Alderman Library

Charlottesville, VA
Papers: Unknown quantity in various collections.

Virginia Historical Society

Richmond, VA
Papers: Numerous items in various collections including correspondence in the Wise family papers, 1777-1983; and William Selden papers, 1774-1871.

Washington and Jefferson College

Washington, PA
Papers: Several speeches.

Western Kentucky University Library
Special Collections

Bowling Green, KY
Papers: In the Michael W. Clusky papers, 1830-1873.

Yale University Libraries
Manuscripts and Archives

New Haven, CT
Papers: Correspondence in the John McLean papers, 1817-1861, on 18 microfilm reels; the Jeremiah S. Black papers, 1813-1894 (bulk 1842-1884), on 36 microfilm reels of originals at the Library of Congress; in the James Watson Webb papers, 1819-1967 (bulk 1819-1890); Gardiner family papers, 1843-1898; S. Griswold Flagg collection, 1825-1938; and Alfred White Van Sinderen collection, 1782-1969.
Research Libraries Information Network In addition to the institutions listed above, items are also cataloged in collections at: Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, AL; American Philosophical Society Library, Philadelphia, PA; Brigham Young University Archives, Provo, UT; Brown University, John Hay Library, Providence, RI; Emory University, Robert W. Woodruff Library, Atlanta, GA; Hagley Museum and Library, Greenville, DE; Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, MD; Massachusetts Archives, Boston, MA; Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln, NB; New York Society Library, New York, NY; New York State Library, Albany, NY; Rosenbach Museum and Library, Philadelphia, PA; Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY; University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, IA; University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library, Ann Arbor, MI; University of Nevada, Reno, NV; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; University of Toledo, Toledo, OH; Utah State Historical Society, Salt Lake City, UT; and others.
[ Top ]

Bibliography / Further Reading

Baker, Jean H. James Buchanan. New York: Times Books, 2004.

Binder, Frederick Moore. "James Buchanan: Jacksonian Expansionist." Historian 55 (Autumn 1992): 69-84.

___. James Buchanan and the American Empire. Selinsgrove, Penn.: Susquehanna University Press, 1994.

Birkner, Michael J. James Buchanan and the Political Crisis of the 1850s. Selinsgrove: Susquehanna University Press, 1996.

Buchanan, James. Mr. Buchanan's Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion. 1866. Reprint. Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1970.

Curtis, George Ticknor. Life of James Buchanan, Fifteenth President of the United States. 2 vols. 1883. Reprint. Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1969.

Horton, Rushmore G. The Life and Public Services of James Buchanan. 1856. Reprint. Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press, 1971.

Klein, Philip Shriver. "Bachelor Father--James Buchanan as a Family Man." Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine 50 (July 1967): 199-214.

___. "James Buchanan--Selfish Politician or Christian Statesman?" Journal of Presbyterian History 42 (March 1964): 1-18.

___. President James Buchanan: A Biography. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1962.

___. President James Buchanan. Norwalk, Conn.: Easton Press, 1987.

Moore, John Bassett, ed. The Works of James Buchanan, Comprising His Speeches, State Papers, and Private Correspondence. 12 vols. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1908-1911.

Pendleton, Lawson Alan. "James Buchanan's Attitude Toward Slavery." Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1964.

Rosenberger, Homer T. "Protecting the Buchanan Papers." Journal of the Lancaster County Historical Society 72 (Trinity 1968): 137-69.

Sloan, Irving J., ed. James Buchanan, 1791-1868: Chronology, Documents, Bibliographical Aids. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana Publications, 1968.

Stenberg, Richard R. "Jackson, Buchanan, and the 'Corrupt Bargain' Calumny." Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 58 (January 1934): 61-85.

Weatherman, Donald V. "James Buchanan on Slavery and Secession." Presidential Studies Quarterly 15 (Fall 1985): 796-805.

West, Lucy Fisher, ed. James Buchanan Papers. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International, 1974. 60 reels and guide.

[ Top ]