Buchanan was born on April 23, 1791, in a log cabin at Cove Gap, a few miles outside Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. His father was James Buchanan, sr. (1761-1821) and his mother was Elizabeth Speer Buchanan (1767-1833). 

He was the oldest of eight children to live maturity. He had four sisters and two brothers- Mrs. Jane Lane, Mrs. Maria Magaw Johnson Yates, Mrs. Sarah Huston, Mrs. Harriet Henry, William Speer Buchanan, George Washington Buchanan, The reverend Edward Young Buchanan. 

James Buchanan never married therefore he has no direct descendents.  He was the only U.S. President to remain a Bachelor. His orphaned niece Harriet Lane, whom he raised from childhood, served as official white house hostess during the Buchanan administration. 

Buchanan learned the fundamentals at common schools and studied Latin and Greek at Old Stone Academy in Mercersburg, PA. He was admitted to Dickinson College in Carlisle in 1807. After a few discipline problems he managed to graduate in 1809. In December of 1809 Buchanan moved to Lancaster to study law under James Hopkins and was admitted to the bar in 1812. 

Buchanan served in the military during the war of 1812. He also held a few different public positions before the presidency- Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (1815-1816), U.S. Representative (1821-1831), U.S. Minister to Russia (1832-1833), U.S. Senator (1834-1845), Secretary of State (1845-1849) and Minister to Great Britain (1853-1856). 

He was nominated to the Presidency in 1856 as democrats convened in Cincinnati in June 1856. His Vice President was John Cabell Breckinridge (1821-1875). Buchanan inaugural address was on March 4, 1857. 

In June 1, 1868, James Buchanan died of pneumonia and inflammation of the lining of the heart in Wheatland estate, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.



Back to Presidents

Useful links: citizenship Test, The constitution, US President, Bill of Rights


web counter