Franklin Pierce

14th President Franklin Pierce, 1853-185714th President Franklin Pierce, 1853-185714th President Franklin Pierce, 1853-185714th President Franklin Pierce, 1853-185714th President Franklin Pierce, 1853-1857

14th President Franklin Pierce, 1853-1857

14th President of the United States
(March 4, 1853 to March 3, 1857)

Full Name: Franklin Pierce
Nickname: "Young Hickory of the Granite Hills"

Born: November 23, 1804, in Hillsborough (now Hillsboro), New Hampshire
Died: October 8, 1869, in Concord, New Hampshire

Father: Benjamin Pierce (1757-1839)
Mother: Ann Kendrick Pierce (1768-1838)
Married: Jane Means Appleton (1806-1863), on November 10, 1834
Children: Franklin Pierce (1836); Frank Robert Pierce (1839-43); Benjamin Pierce (1841-53)

Religion: Episcopalian
Education: Graduated from Bowdoin College (1824)
Occupation: Lawyer, public official
Political Party: Democrat
Other Government Positions:

  • Served in New Hampshire Legislature, 1829-33
  • Member of U.S. House of Representatives, 1833-37
  • Unites States Senate, 1837-42

Presidential Salary: $25,000/year

Presidential Election Results:

YearCandidatePopular VotesElectoral Votes
1852Franklin Pierce1,601,117254
(map)Winfield Scott1,385,45342

Vice President: William R. King (1853)

Cabinet:

Secretary of State
William L. Marcy (1853-57)
Secretary of the Treasury
James Guthrie (1853-57)
Secretary of War
Jefferson Davis (1853-57)
Attorney General
Caleb Cushing (1853-57)
Postmaster General
James Campbell (1853-57)
Secretary of the Navy
James C. Dobbin (1853-57)
Secretary of the Interior
Robert McClelland (1853-57)

Supreme Court Justices:
John Archibald Campbell (1853-1861)

Notable Events:
  • 1853
    • On December 30, the Gadsden Purchase signed with Mexico adding 29,670 square miles of new territory in present-day Arizona and New Mexico.
  • 1854
    • On March 31, Commodore Matthew Perry signed the Treaty of Kanagawa with Japan, marking an end to three centuries of Japanese isolation.
    • On May 30, Pierce signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act intended to resolve the issue of expanding slavery into the territories.
    • Ostend Manifesto written to advocate for the purchase of Cuba from Spain.
Internet Biographies:
Franklin Pierce -- from The Presidents of the United States of America
Compiled by the White House.
Franklin Pierce -- from The American President
From the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, in addition to information on the Presidents themselves, they have first lady and cabinet member biographies, listings of presidential staff and advisers, and timelines detailing significant events in the lives of each administration.
Franklin Pierce -- from Encyclopaedia Britannica
Facts about Pierce and his presidency.
The Life of Franklin Pierce -- by Nathaniel Hawthorne
This detailed biography, written in 1852, is in the public domain.
Hon. Franklin Pierce: Death of the Ex-President -- from The New York Times
The obituary text from The New York Times archives.
Videos:
Other Internet Resources:
The Best Biographies of Franklin Pierce
In 2012, Stephen Floyd started his search for the best biography of each president. He usually has reviews of multiple biographies for each president.
Franklin Pierce Homestead State Historic Site
Pierce's home from his infancy until his marriage in 1834.
Franklin Pierce: NH's Forgotten President
Written by Brady Carlson, this article paints the picture of one of the nation's most obscure presidents.
The Franklin Pierce Pages
This site is a tongue-in-cheek "moving tribute to America's most obscure (and best looking) president."
Health and Medical History of Franklin Pierce
Medical background of each president with references. Compiled by John Sotos, MD.
The Pierce Manse
The historic home of Franklin Pierce located in Concord, New Hampshire. Tourist information and historical context can be found at this web site.
Points of Interest:
Additional Facts:
  • Pierce was arrested while in office for running over an old woman with his horse, but his case was dropped due to insufficient evidence in 1853.
  • He defeated his old commanding officer from the Mexican War, Winfield Scott, when he was elected president.
  • Pierce was wounded during the Mexican War.
  • One of the Democratic party's slogans during Pierce's campaign for president was: "We Polked you in 1844; we shall Pierce you in 1852."
  • Benjamin, Pierce's third and only surviving child, died in a railroad accident two months before his father's inauguration.
  • Because of religious considerations Pierce affirmed rather than swore the Presidential oath of office.
  • Pierce gave his 3,319-word inaugural address from memory, without the aid of notes.
  • Pierce was the only President to have no turnover in his cabinet.
  • Pierce was the only elected President who sought but did not win his party's nomination for a second term.
  • During his second year at Bowdoin College in Maine, Pierce had the lowest grades out of anyone in his class. He changed his study habits, and graduated third in his class. Among his class mates were Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
  • Franklin Pierce was the first President to have a Christmas tree in the White House.
  • He installed the first central-heating system and the first bathroom with hot and cold water in the White House.
  • Pierce was an avid fisherman.
  • Pierce died of cirrhosis of the liver as a result of years of heavy drinking.
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Quotes:

“While men inhabiting different parts of this vast continent cannot be expected to hold the same opinions, they can unite in a common objective and sustain common principles.”

“Frequently the more trifling the subject, the more animated and protracted the discussion.”

Previous President: Millard Fillmore
Next President: James Buchanan