Franklin Pierce

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Portrait, Franklin PierceFranklin Pierce 14th President of the United States (March 4, 1853 to March 3, 1857) 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: General Benjamin Pierce Mother: Ann Kendrick Pierce Married: Jane Means Appleton Pierce (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
  • United States Senate, 1837-42

Presidential Salary: $25,000/year

Presidential Election Results:
YearPopular VotesElectoral Votes
1852Franklin Pierce1,601,117254
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 Appointments:

Associate Justice
John Archibald Campbell (1853-61)

Notable Events:

Internet Biographies:

Franklin Pierce — from The Presidents of the United States of America
Compiled by the White House.
Franklin Pierce — from American Presidents: Life Portraits — C-SPAN
Biographical information, trivia, key events, video, and other reference materials. Website created to accompany C-SPAN’s 20th Anniversary Television Series, American Presidents: Life Portraits.
Franklin Pierce — from U.S. Presidents
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.
The Life of Franklin Pierce — by Nathaniel Hawthorne
This detailed biography, written in 1852, is in the public domain.

Historical Documents:

Inaugural Address (1853)

Other Internet Resources:

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:

  • 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, the Whig candidate, 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 tiny U.S. flagPolked you in 1844; we shall Pierce you in 1852.”
  • Several incidents that took place during the presidency of Franklin Pierce, such as Bleeding Kansas and the Kansas-Nebraska Act, were precursors to the Civil War. His handling of the tensions between North and South during this time are widely criticized as well.
  • 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 classmates 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.
  • His father, Benjamin Pierce held the post of the Governor of New Hampshire from 1827-28.

Previous President: tiny U.S. flagMillard Fillmore | Next President: tiny U.S. flagJames Buchanan

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