James Buchanan

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
2,386
Las Vegas, NV USA
#31
Lincoln's predecessor is generally considered one of the worst presidents in American history, for his weak-willed approach to the rising Secessionist crisis. What is Historum's take on this somewhat unappealing personality?
He's in the bottom five on every list I've seen. Lincoln is in the top 5 in every list and mostly in the first position. Strangely Buchanan would appear much more qualified than Lincoln. Buchanan served in the House, the Senate and as Secretary of State. Lincoln served only a single (2 yr) term in the House and that term ended 10 years before he ran for president. So should we reject government experience as a qualifying factor for office? Many modern day skeptics might say so. Politics is corrupting they say. The longer you serve, the more corrupt you become? Well that may be a bit extreme. I think Lincoln just happened to be the right person for the time. He made mistakes and didn't deny them. He understood the gravity of the situation and the importance of keeping the preservation of the Union foremost. Any thoughts?
 

Viperlord

Ad Honorem
Aug 2010
8,062
VA
#32
While Lincoln's resume in terms of the federal government was a bit thin, he had been heavily involved in politics throughout most of his adult life and was a prominent national figure in the Republican Party in 1860, as the state of Illinois' leading Republican. I would suggest Lincoln's career does not offer a usefully relevant case of being a "outsider" in the way we tend to frame certain more modern political figures who come from the business world or elsewhere.
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
4,975
US
#33
He's in the bottom five on every list I've seen. Lincoln is in the top 5 in every list and mostly in the first position. Strangely Buchanan would appear much more qualified than Lincoln. Buchanan served in the House, the Senate and as Secretary of State. Lincoln served only a single (2 yr) term in the House and that term ended 10 years before he ran for president. So should we reject government experience as a qualifying factor for office? Many modern day skeptics might say so. Politics is corrupting they say. The longer you serve, the more corrupt you become? Well that may be a bit extreme. I think Lincoln just happened to be the right person for the time. He made mistakes and didn't deny them. He understood the gravity of the situation and the importance of keeping the preservation of the Union foremost. Any thoughts?
Leadership cannot be taught. All the diplomatic posts in the world could not cure Buchanan's lack of courage and conviction.
 

Viperlord

Ad Honorem
Aug 2010
8,062
VA
#34
Northern men with Southern views and loyalties, such as Buchanan and Stephen Douglas, were among the most responsible for the Civil War. Whatever chance of peaceable arrangement there was was continually ruined by such men continually perverting any attempt at compromise or balance into an all-out assault on the rights of non-slaveholders and free men on behalf of Southern interests. After Southerners gained an effective veto over the Democratic nomination in 1844, a number of politicians saw all-out appeasement and submission to the slave power, even at the expense of constitutional rights and good faith, such as Douglas' actions in 1850 and 1854 or Buchanan's in 1857, as the only viable path to power within the party. This ended up backfiring sooner than expected by encouraging Southern secessionists to become so extreme in their demands and their belief that the whole party must unquestioningly submit to the interests of elite slaveholders, that by 1860 the Democratic Party self-destructed both nationally and within the North in particular.
 
Jun 2017
2,380
Connecticut
#35
Ironically he might have been our most qualified president while Lincoln was one of our least(talking in terms of political resume). Often when we talk civil war we go straight from 1860 to secession to Fort Sumter while ignoring there was a 5 month period where James Buchanan sort of let almost all the federal property in the south be seized without a response and by the time Lincoln got into office Fort Sumter was about all that was left for their to be a struggle over. Buchanan was elected President on the threat of secession did his best for four years to appease the South as the South's focus switched from preserving the institution of slavery in their region out of economic necessity to zealously shoving it in the North's face, turning abolitionism from social activism to NIMBY rage. He's not the only person who is responsible for the deaths of all those in the Civil War, Lee might be more responsible IMO(his decision to join the CSA ironically ended up causing the destruction of the state he made that decision to protect) but he's at the top of that list. If we had a thread on President's whose actions constituted treason, they'd be a shortlist most could agree on in the pre politically relevant era's but I think Buchanan would top it by a very wide margin, and if he didn't, I'd be pretty surprised.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,061
Dispargum
#36
Did Buchanan even run for re-election in 1860? I know he didn't get the Democratic nomination, but did he even try? And if not, why not? Had he made too many political enemies? Did he dislike the job? Did he consider himself too old?
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
4,975
US
#37
Did Buchanan even run for re-election in 1860? I know he didn't get the Democratic nomination, but did he even try? And if not, why not? Had he made too many political enemies? Did he dislike the job? Did he consider himself too old?
Maybe too tired and beaten? He is not presented by history as a man of strong will.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
2,386
Las Vegas, NV USA
#38
Did Buchanan even run for re-election in 1860? I know he didn't get the Democratic nomination, but did he even try? And if not, why not? Had he made too many political enemies? Did he dislike the job? Did he consider himself too old?
He did not run. He hated his job and couldn't wait to leave office. His party split, running two candidates (Northern and Southern Democrats). This pretty much guaranteed Lincoln's election after he was nominated by the Republican Party.

United States presidential election of 1860 | United States government
 
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Viperlord

Ad Honorem
Aug 2010
8,062
VA
#39
The split party did not necessarily cause Lincoln's election; even if you combined every vote cast for someone besides Lincoln, he would have won the electoral college. In fact, there's a good argument that the existence of Breckinridge at the head of the Southern extremist party benefited John Bell and Stephen Douglas significantly; they got to play the moderate, moreso than they really were, and Douglas in particular siphoned off some northern votes that Lincoln would otherwise have likely gotten.
 

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