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Images of the Civil War

President James Buchanan

James Buchanan, President of the United States when the South seceded

James Buchanan, President of the United States from 1857-1861 was an esteemed politician who followed the "party line." In 1856 the Democrats elected him as a "Save the Union" candidate (his running mate was popular southerner John Breckenridge). As president-elect he exerted considerable sway on the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott decision, and he supported the fraudulent Lecompton Constitution in Bleeding Kansas. Following the election of Republican Abraham Lincoln in 1860, Buchanan tried to preserve the Union to no avail. After the secession of 9 southern states, he was backed into the corner by Gov. Pickens over Fort Sumter, which he refused to turn over to the South (it was federal property and the government did not recognized the Confederate States of America claim of eminent domain). During his last four months in office, he struggled to preserve what remained of the United States.

Image added on:February 25, 2006


James Buchanan

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