Facts About President Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce was the 14th President of the United States, serving from 1853 to 1857. Despite being one of the least-known and least-appreciated presidents in history, Pierce had a significant impact on the country. Here are some interesting facts about the life and presidency of Franklin Pierce.
Early Life and Education
Franklin Pierce was born on November 23, 1804, in Hillsborough, New Hampshire. His father, Benjamin Pierce, was a Revolutionary War hero who later became the governor of New Hampshire. Pierce attended Bowdoin College in Maine, where he graduated in 1824. Among his classmates were Nathaniel Hawthorne (who later became a famous author), Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (a famous poet), and future U.S. president James K. Polk.
Pierce served in the Mexican War as a brigadier general, but he was criticized for his leadership abilities. During the Battle of Contreras, he was thrown from his horse and nearly killed. He eventually recovered and went on to lead his troops in the Battle of Churubusco and the Battle of Chapultepec. Pierce returned to the United States a hero, and his military experience helped him win the presidency in 1852.
Pierce won the Democratic Party nomination for president in 1852, and he faced off against Whig candidate Winfield Scott in the general election. Pierce campaigned on a platform of states’ rights, limited federal government, and expansionism. He won the election in a landslide, earning 27 states and 254 electoral votes to Scott’s 4 states and 42 electoral votes.
Pierce’s domestic policies were largely influenced by the controversy over slavery. In 1854, he signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and allowed the residents of those territories to decide whether to allow slavery. This move sparked violence and led to the creation of the Republican Party, which was dedicated to stopping the spread of slavery.
Pierce’s foreign policy was focused on expanding U.S. territory. In 1853, he sent Minister James Gadsden to negotiate the purchase of land from Mexico that would allow for the construction of a transcontinental railroad. The Gadsden Purchase, as it became known, gave the U.S. a strip of land that is now part of Arizona and New Mexico.
Pierce was married to Jane Appleton Pierce, who was a deeply religious woman and often ill. The couple had three children, all of whom died at young ages. Pierce was known to drink heavily, and his alcoholism may have contributed to his lackluster presidency.
After leaving office, Pierce became increasingly disenchanted with politics. He opposed the Civil War and was seen as sympathetic to the Confederacy. In 1869, he was thrown from a carriage and died of cirrhosis of the liver. He is buried in Concord, New Hampshire.
In conclusion, Franklin Pierce was a controversial and largely forgotten president, but his impact on U.S. history cannot be ignored. Through both his military service and his presidency, Pierce played a significant role in shaping the country during a tumultuous time in its history.