Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce
14th United States President
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In office Mar. 4, 1853 – Mar. 4, 1857
V. President William King
Political Party Democratic Party
Personal Info
Born Nov. 23, 1804
Died Oct. 8, 1869 (at age 64)
Religion Episcopal
School Bowdoin College
Profession Lawyer
Wife Jane Appleton
Children Franklin, Frank Robert, Benjamin
U.S. Presidents 1-15
1. George Washington (1789–1797)
2. John Adams (1797-1801)
3. Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)
4. James Madison (1809-1817)
5. James Monroe (1817-1825)
6. John Quincy Adams (1825-1829)
7. Andrew Jackson (1829-1837)
8. Martin Van Buren (1837-1841)
9. William Henry Harrison (1841-1841)
10. John Tyler (1841-1845)
11. James Knox Polk (1845-1849)
12. Zachary Taylor (1849-1850)
13. Millard Fillmore (1850-1853)
14. Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)
15. James Buchanan (1857-1861)
List of All the Presidents

The leadership of the 14th American president, Franklin Kendrick Pierce, is riddled with criticism and turmoil from conflicting interests between people from the Northern and Southern states of the country.

Early Beginnings

It was the 23rd of November, 1804 when a former farmer who is now a state governor, Benjamin Pierce, and his wife, Anna Kendrick gave birth to their fifth child who was christened Franklin Pierce and would later become the only president from New Hampshire.

He grew up in a modest family of moderate wealth but spent his childhood with an ascribed status of respect from the residents of their community in Hillsborough. His father, Benjamin, was formerly a farmer but became a state militia general and brought victories during the American Revolution. This became the stepping stones for him to enter local politics. Anna Kendrick, his mother, also came from the old and early Puritan settlers in Massachusetts, this also garnering respect from people in their vicinity.

As a young boy, he was sent to local schools in their area such as the Hillsborough Center until he was twelve years old. At that point, his parents decided to have him educated in private academies outside their town where he was educated at institutions such as the Hancock Academy and Francestown Academy and Phillips Exeter Academy.

He decided to take higher education in Brunswick, Maine during the fall of 1820. Franklin Pierce made many friends in Bowdoin College and was very active in extra-curricular activities, especially the literary and debate clubs. The young Franklin Pierce enjoyed attention and involvement so much that he placed academics as a second priority, right behind social involvement. He soon ranked lowest in his class and this made him strive harder to improve his grades where he eventually ranked third in class during their graduation in 1824.

He entered law school in 1826 at Northampton in Massachusetts where he was guided by several political figures such as Levi Woodbury, Edmund Parker and Samuel Howe until he practiced law in 1827 and went back to New Hampshire.

Law Practice and Entry into Politics

Franklin Pierce went back to his hometown to practice his legal career and at the same time, fulfill his duties in the Democratic Party. He was elected in the lower house and state legislature of his state, while assisting his governor-father around the years 1828 to 1833. He then served as the youngest representative in Congress until 1837.

It was around the same period when Franklin Pierce was regarded as a court room star. He began his law practice as a trial lawyer which was attributed to his amazing skill in public speaking and his family reputation. People were never disappointed at how Franklin Pierce was able to entertain the audience of his court room sessions. He was offered high-profile cases and won almost all these trials, not due to strict reading of the law, but because of his ability to assess what the jury was rooting for and how to appeal to their emotions.

Election of 1852 and the Path to Presidency

During the convention of the Democratic Party on July 1, 1852, they tried to unify once again the differing factions of the party including those who went away with Martin van Buren. There were four nominees to become presidential candidates and these were Lewis Cass, Stephen Douglas, James Buchanan, and William Macy, but none of them were able to achieve a majority over the others.

The inclusion of Franklin Pierce in the list of nominees which was intended to break the ties between the other candidates that made him become the representative of the party for the national elections in 1852. He was known by most of the delegates because of his activism and constant involvement in all party meetings, thus granting him the necessary majority of votes from the Democrats.

However, there were some members of the party who were concerned with his running since he had not had any major political role in the past. Furthermore, only a limited number of people actually knew him, although this was regarded as an advantage by some. Franklin Pierce did not have any enemies, and his status of not being known by everyone made him easy to be loved by people. His campaign image was easily molded into whatever the people wanted to see in a future president. The Democratic Party was trying to replicate their dark horse success when Polk won as president which also happened since Franklin Pierce got almost every electoral and popular vote.

The Pierce Administration

Franklin Pierce was inaugurated as president on March 4, 1853 despite the tragedy that his family had encountered a few months prior. It was a derailed train accident that occurred in January of the same year which resulted in the death of their son, Benjamin, and the seclusion of his wife, Jane Pierce, from any political involvement.

He took an oath with his hand above a law book instead of the Bible, and recited it from memory. Pierce promised to maintain economic prosperity, peaceful living, and attempt to expand the international relations of the United States during his term of office.

The greatest problem faced by the administration of Franklin Pierce was the rekindling of the previously suppressed feelings about slavery which was calmed by enacting the Compromise of 1850. A factor that contributed to the opening of concerns over slavery occurred in 1854 when he passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, a law that allowed the residents of the Western states such as Kansas and Nebraska to decide whether they would be abolishing slavery as done by the Northerners or continue to own slaves such as done by people from the South.

He was also seen to be complying with the desires of his supporters and friends from the party who mostly were Southern. He enforced the Fugitive Slave Act that asked slaves who escaped or fled from their owners be returned. His reputation as president was further damaged when the representatives of the Northern states showed that he could be manipulated and was willing to sweep aside the views of people outside or beyond the interests of his own party.

His attempt to acquire Cuba from Spanish rule was also seen by his constituents as a means of condoning slavery since this nation condoned the ownership of slaves. Social stratification and segregation was also aggravated with the arrival of Irish Catholics in the country which replaced the African Americans in some northern states. His other projects and plans as president were also seen by people as not effective, so his popularity gradually declined.

End of Presidency

Franklin Pierce was not nominated again to run for presidency by the Democratic Party thus ending his term by 1857. He left the White House with a lot of criticism and was even regarded by some people as one of the least effective presidents in the history of the United States government.

Franklin Pierce was eventually forgotten by the Americans and was only remembered with how he blamed Abraham Lincoln when the Civil War broke out. His constant criticism and ridicule of the Lincoln administration made him lose the friendship of some of his long-time comrades.

Franklin Pierce was an example of a man with skill, intelligence and even the charisma to make a difference with his administration, but it was his loyalty to his party and his inability to recognize the limits of obeying one’s supporters that cost him the respect of his countrymen.

6 responses to “Franklin Pierce”

  1. Terri smith says:

    too many big words 🙁 Im just a kid lol

  2. Jill says:

    That’s why they make dictionaries kid. So you learn those ‘big words’ and become smarter!

    Nice overall history and explainations for his so-called failures as President.

  3. Ray Soller says:

    I need to ask, what is the historical basis for saying, “He took an oath with his hand above a law book instead of the Bible”?

  4. Lexy says:

    This gave me all the information I needed to write my report. Not to many words and explains everything just right for my understandings:)

  5. Nicolas says:

    you didn’t tell the impacts

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