Friday, July 6, 2012

James Buchanan

James Buchanan Grave / The Peace Hat
photo by Tony Fischer Photography via Flickr/Creative Commons
Buried: Lancaster, Pennsylvania Died: June 1, 1869

Every few years somebody does a survey where prominent presidential historians rank the nation’s chief executives. James Buchanan almost always comes in dead last, and for years I thought it was for doing nothing while the country moved toward civil war. Turns out it was his predecessor, Franklin Pierce, who did nothing - Buchanan actually did plenty, all of it exactly wrong. “Posterity will do me justice” indeed, although posterity has at least (barely) remembered him.

See also: The lovely, albeit inexplicable, James Buchanan Memorial in Washington. Old Buck may be ranked last among presidents, but this spot is not ranked last among memorials.

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