James Buchanan (April 23, 1791 - June 1, 1868) was the 15th (1857-1861) President of the United States. He was the only President never to marry, and the only citizen of Pennsylvania to hold that office. He has been critisized for failing to take any positive action in order to attempt to prevent the country from sliding into schism and civil war.
Some historians have speculated that Buchanan may have been gay. These historians point to the unusual circumstances surrounding his failed engagement to Ann Coleman, the fact that he never married, and his very close personal relationship with former United States Vice President William R. King. The theory is controversial and a source of debate among Buchanan historians.
Buchanan was a Representative and a Senator from Pennsylvania. He was born at Cove Gap, near Mercersburg, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, on April 23, 1791. He moved to Mercersburg with his parents in 1799, was privately tutored and then attended the village academy and was graduated from Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. In 1809 he moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The same year he studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1812 and practiced in Lancaster. He was one of the first volunteers in the War of 1812 and served in the defense of Baltimore, Maryland. He was a member of the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives from 1814 to 1815. He was elected to the Seventeenth and to the four succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1821 - March 3, 1831). He was chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary (Twenty-first Congress). He was not a candidate for renomination in 1830. Buchanan served as 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. Buchanan served as Minister to Russia from 1832 to 1834.
Buchanan was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of William Wilkins. He served from December 6, 1834; was reelected in 1837 and 1843, and resigned on March 5, 1845, to accept a Cabinet portfolio. He was chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations (Twenty-fourth through Twenty-sixth Congresses).
Buchanan served as Secretary of State in the Cabinet of President James Polk from 1845 to 1849, then as Minister to Great Britain from 1853 to 1856. He was elected as a Democrat President of the United States in 1856 and served from March 4, 1857, to March 4, 1861. He retired to his home "Wheatland," near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he died June 1, 1868. He was interred in Woodward Hill Cemetery, in Lancaster.
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Other people with this name: James M. Buchanan (economist)