James Buchanan

Feb 2013
6,724
#11
I would say that he does qualify as one of the worst Presidents in American history for facing a situation that demanded decisive action with near-complete passivity most of the time, and then when he acted it almost invariably turned a bad situation into a worse one from poor timing. He set a bar for failure as a President nobody after him has ever come even close to, no matter how much their policies can be despised.
 
Feb 2013
1,283
Second City
#13
First, it was obvious that he really never wanted to be president, and was more effective and comfortable, being a member of congress.
Nonsense. Buchanan had been gunning for the presidency since he was Polk's Secretary of State, and had been the Appalachian wing's presidential nominee since 1848. The nomination of '52 was particularly contested with Buchanan staying in for 48 of 49 ballots. Even if one attributes his ambition to his flamboyantly Southern lover, Sen. William R. King, that doesn't account for Buchanan's run in '56, when he could have easily stepped aside to let Sen. Douglas's Midland/New York wing take the reins. Instead, he got it, he got a mess, and he behaved exactly like the dessicated Doughface he'd always been. When confronted with crises he opted for diversion and passivity, most glaringly doing ****-all to prevent members of his own Cabinet from hoarding materiel in states openly threatening rebellion.
 

tjadams

Ad Honoris
Mar 2009
25,362
Texas
#14
Nonsense. He was one time out of politics and out of the country at times,
he wasn't looking to be president, nor wanted to be the spear point.
He was a safe bet that the Democratic Party floated up because he had the resume
and was a staunch Democrat.
 
Jul 2011
5,932
Belgium
#15
It was clear that he was president at the worst of times, with the slavery issue about to explode...
He was, however, way to weak to be the president of the United states in such a time, and I can't seem to remember what useful things he did during his stay at the white house.

Then there's also the fact that on one side, he was preaching for preservation of the union, but he also said that "the entire crisis was due to intemperate interference of the Northern people with the question of slavery in the Southern States." Also, according to him: "if the Northeners don't repeal their unconstitutional and obnoxious enactments ... the injured States, after having first used all peaceful and constitutional means to obtain redress, would be justified in revolutionary resistance to the Government of the Union."
(I pulled these quotes out of Wikipedia, but I remember reading these exact same sentences in James Mc.Pherson's "Battle Cry of Freedom", somewhere in the chapter "the counterrevolution of 1861")

So basically, he was saying, we must save the Union, but only if the North gives in to all the demands of the south.

Maybe he would have been a better president in another time, but as it stands, he can go down as one of the worst.
 

Rongo

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
5,683
Ohio
#16
It was clear that he was president at the worst of times, with the slavery issue about to explode...
He was, however, way to weak to be the president of the United states in such a time, and I can't seem to remember what useful things he did during his stay at the white house.

Then there's also the fact that on one side, he was preaching for preservation of the union, but he also said that "the entire crisis was due to intemperate interference of the Northern people with the question of slavery in the Southern States." Also, according to him: "if the Northeners don't repeal their unconstitutional and obnoxious enactments ... the injured States, after having first used all peaceful and constitutional means to obtain redress, would be justified in revolutionary resistance to the Government of the Union."
(I pulled these quotes out of Wikipedia, but I remember reading these exact same sentences in James Mc.Pherson's "Battle Cry of Freedom", somewhere in the chapter "the counterrevolution of 1861")

So basically, he was saying, we must save the Union, but only if the North gives in to all the demands of the south.

Maybe he would have been a better president in another time, but as it stands, he can go down as one of the worst.
Yes, I think this is the real key. He was actually just another in a line of "doughface" Presidents who caved in to the slaveholders on issue after issue. I'm really not sure he was any worse than Pierce or Fillmore, but he just happened to be in the position where it counted the most.
 
Jul 2010
6,851
Not sure what it is
#17
Yes, I think this is the real key. He was actually just another in a line of "doughface" Presidents who caved in to the slaveholders on issue after issue. I'm really not sure he was any worse than Pierce or Fillmore, but he just happened to be in the position where it counted the most.
Slavery was the backbone of South's economy. No way he would let Southern economy turned into ruin by giving into abolitionists' demands. Civil War and the subsequent imposed changes were inevitable.
 

Rongo

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
5,683
Ohio
#18
Slavery was the backbone of South's economy. No way he would let Southern economy turned into ruin by giving into abolitionists' demands.
Nobody was asking him to give into the abolitionists' demands. But by the same token he didn't have to give in to all the slaveholders' demands and blame the abolitionists for all the trouble.

Civil War and the subsequent imposed changes were inevitable.
By the time he took office, I agree that this was basically true. However if he had more backbone he might have left his successor in a better position to prosecute it.
 

Viperlord

Ad Honorem
Aug 2010
8,098
VA
#19
Nonsense. He was one time out of politics and out of the country at times,
he wasn't looking to be president, nor wanted to be the spear point.
He was a safe bet that the Democratic Party floated up because he had the resume
and was a staunch Democrat.
While he may not have been actively looking for the job, he certainly did nothing to discourage the movement on his behalf. And he was out of the country because he was serving as minister to Britain, where he was involved in writing up the Ostend Manifesto. Hardly apolitical.
 
Mar 2011
1,986
Bulgaria
#20
Buchanan has also been (like many historical figures) accused of being secretly homosexual, because he was our first (and so far, only) bachelor president. Does anyone have any information or theories on why he never married?
That is ridiculous, just because someone is unmarried or never marry in their entire life doesn't make them homosexual for god's sake!

If I never marry, would that mean I have always been lesbian? :eek:

What about Nikola Tesla, Adam Smith, Issac Newton, Elizabeth I...

Why he never married? He might just have been unlucky in this area of life. Not all of us are destined to find our soul-mate. Some of us will succeed, and some of us won't, and there is nothing we could do about it...
 

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