Franklin Pierce: Young Hickory of the Granite Hills by Roy Franklin Nichols
Read: Mar 12 - Mar 20
Format: hardback, 547 pages
Source: Public Library
Category: Who/What/When/Where/How/Why? - Bios/history
Challenges: 101020, 75 Book, SYLL, USPC, Chunkster
Franklin Pierce was the man elected to follow Millard Fillmore as President of the United States. The two men were completely different and not just in their political outlooks but in their approach in life.
"The Democratic Party was to become for Pierce his family, his fraternity, his church, and his country." Pierce was the son of a Revolutionary Officer and his hero worship of all things military (especially Andrew Jackson) in his early years pushed him toward a career dedicated to his nation.
After he was basically drafted for the Presidential election in 1852, his son was killed in a train accident on his way to Washington and his wife, being hysterical, blamed his election saying he needed to concentrate on the problems of the nation so God had taken her son so to get him out of the way. Suffering from his loss, Pierce, nevertheless tried to balance the factions of the Democratic party but was not up to the task. His cabinet members had no experience in foreign affairs (except for Buchanan). That said, he did have a certain administrative ability and was able to identify areas of improvement in mail services, staffing shortages, and military requirements.
"His offices (throughout his life) had come to him because he was useful as a compromise choice to settle differences between contending parties." He wasn't always the best qualified and because of that, many issues escalated during his administration. Pierce authorized the opening of the Kansas/ Nebraska territories in 1853 before the surveys were completed in 1856. This resulted in conflicting property claims.
Franklin Pierce's Presidency lacked diplomacy both foreign and domestic so that he was not able to garner the nomination of his party again in 1856. Pierce was strongly opposed to the Civil War feeling that a peacefully solution should have been found.
He condemned the Emancipation Proclamation saying "he couldn't understand how the people of the United States would tolerate this attempt to 'butcher' their own race for the sake of 'inflicting' emancipation upon the 4 million Negros who were in no sense capable of profiting by freedom."
His death in 1869 was not heralded as had been his other predecessors.
Editorial: I guess at this point I have to say that IMHO, this man probably didn't deserve to be elected to the office of President of the United States. However, due to the issues of the time and the inability of the factions to reach any agreement as to what needed to be done, no one would have been able to resolve the issues any better.