Jessica: James Buchanan

President James Buchanan: A Biography, by Phillip Klein

This book was a lot like James Buchanan’s political career…long, drawn out and nothing substantial happened. I don’t know how one would write an enthralling biography of James Buchanan though. He certainly wasn’t a very memorable president, with the exception of his bachelorhood. And speaking of his bachelorhood, I never realized that he was at one time engaged. I guess you do learn something new everyday. I do believe learning about his engagement was the highlight of the book for me. It is hinted that James Buchanan never married because of his responsiblities for caring for his orphaned nieces and nephews and poorer siblings.

James Buchanan certainly had a very long life in politics. It is said in one section of the book that “James Buchanan always did thing the slow way, that sure way. He had no talent for the sudden devastating move, the brilliant stroke, the daring gamble, or the quick quip…”, this just might explain why it took so darn long for him to finally end up as President. Some say that he became president 20 years too late.

Once he finally had the chance to run the country, he almost seemed too old and too tired to do so. He vetoed the Homestead Bill an tried to expand the US to the Caribbean which came across as a pro-slavery move in a time when slavery was a major hot-spot. To James Buchanan slavery was not the problem, it was the agitation that slavery caused. He thought that slavery had not destroyed the nation and need not destroy the nation, but the contest over slavery would.

Unfortunately for James Buchanan the thing he will most likely always be remembered for in his presidency is that fact that he was the only bachelor president to date. And I am afraid that this book did nothing to help me to remember him as much else.

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