Was James Buchanan that bad a president?

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,211
#1
He seems to be blamed for the Civil War. He was a Democrat and was sympathetic to southern interests. However, shouldn't the blame for the war go to the extremists on both sides, particularly the secessionists, and not to the relatively moderate president?
 
Mar 2010
2,522
#2
Yes

I once thought that. But after reading about him, I can proudly say;
'YES!"

He allowed the nation to get split and then berated the north for not coming to terms with the south's philosophy
 

diddyriddick

Historum Emeritas
May 2009
14,692
A tiny hamlet in the Carolina Sandhills
#3
He seems to be blamed for the Civil War. He was a Democrat and was sympathetic to southern interests. However, shouldn't the blame for the war go to the extremists on both sides, particularly the secessionists, and not to the relatively moderate president?
The Civil War would have happened with or without Buchanan. The problem with Buchanan is that he allowed it to happen without ANY action. He made a national problem much worse with his inaction.
 

Viperlord

Ad Honorem
Aug 2010
8,109
VA
#4
The oncoming of the Civil War might well have been nigh-impossible to prevent, and Buchanan could be forgiven for it -- if he had even tried to seriously avert it. He did not, and even supported trying to shove slavery down the throat of Kansas, with the astoundingly unjust Lecompton Constitution. .
 

Baltis

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,005
Texas
#5
The Morman War was probably one of the most questionable acts ever undertaken by a President.

No, he isn't to blame for the Civil War. but, Yes, he really was that bad as President. He is often rated dead last on the lists and, I think somewhat rightly so.
 
Apr 2011
390
Tetovo, Macedonia
#6
It wouldn't be fair to blame him for the Civil War, but on the eve of sectional strife, the USA needed a strong administration and Buchanan couldn't provide that. I think he would have been a better president in a different time period.

The Morman War was probably one of the most questionable acts ever undertaken by a President.
This is true. The Utah War was definitely an issue specific to Buchanan's presidency and it wasn't a necessary or well-justified conflict.
 
Feb 2013
6,724
#7
Yes, he was quite bad as a President. It may be and arguably should be the Presidential ideal to defuse a civil war, not to start one or to finish one. But what he did was neither present a strong front to deter secession nor simply letting them go. He had the worst of all worlds as an indecisive conniving politician. He's compared to Chamberlain for a reason, but that's unjust: Neville Chamberlain had the guts to go into WWII instead of perpetuating his policy of appeasement to his very last phase of office and then suddenly and belatedly discovering a backbone.
 

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