Portraits: James Buchanan   Leave a comment

A daguerreotype of James Buchanan

James Buchanan (1791 – 1868)

The 15th President of the United States, 1857 – 1861

AKA: Old Public Functionary

From: Pennsylvania

College: Dickinson College

Married to: never married (the only President to never marry)

Children: none

Party: Democratic

Previous Jobs: Lawyer, US Congressman, US Senator, Secretary of State, Minister to the United Kingdom

In His Words: “All agree that under the Constitution slavery in the States is beyond the reach of any human power except that of the respective States themselves wherein it exists. May we not, then, hope that the long agitation on this subject is approaching its end, and that the geographical parties to which it has given birth, so much dreaded by the Father of his Country, will speedily become extinct?”

“I am the last President of the United States!”

“Sir, if you are as happy in entering the White House as I shall feel on returning to Wheatland, you are a happy man indeed.” (said to Abraham Lincoln on the day of his inauguration)

“Liberty must be allowed to work out its natural results; and these will, ere long, astonish the world.”

“What is right and what is practicable are two different things.”

Not true: Historical figures are often appropriated to fulfill a political agenda in today’s society.  Such is the case with Buchanan, who has been called the first gay President.  This allegation is unproven.  Circumstantial evidence is there (He never married!  He liked to gossip!  He lived with another man!).  However, he also had his heart broken by his fiance who died suddenly after breaking the engagement (suicide?).  Lots of questions here, and no definitive answer.  Was he gay?  We don’t know.  Was he heterosexual?  It appears so, though we don’t have the “proof” of a marriage and children. So, for me, I’ll simply say it is unproven that he was gay.  Some additional thoughts are below, under the “More” section.


James Buchanan was born in a log cabin and there were 11 children in his family.

Minnesota, Oregon and Kansas joined the Union during his Presidency.  Unfortunately, 7 states seceded:  South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, George, Louisiana and Texas.

Buchanan is frequently cited as the worst President, since he did not resolve the issue of slavery (just like his predecessors!) and did not prevent the secession of the South.

The Official Portrait: This red, white and blue painting was done by George Peter Alexander Healy in 1859.  So what’s going on with his hair? James Buchanan, Official White House Portrait



New York Times

McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

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