American Statesmen: Secretaries of State from John Jay to Colin Powell

By Edward S. Mihalkanin | Go to book overview

JAMES BUCHANAN (1791-1868)

Served 1845-1849

Appointed by President James K. Polk

Democrat

James Buchanan was born near Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, on April 23, 1791, the second of eleven children by James Buchanan and Elizabeth Speer Buchanan. His father had immigrated to Pennsylvania from Country Donegal, Ireland, in 1783, where he settled as a farmer and eventually owned a frontier trading post at Stony Batter. Young James grew up in a staunch Presbyterian household, where he learned patriotic values and acquired a love of learning. He graduated with honors from Dickinson College in 1809 and was admitted to the bar in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1813, where he set up a law practice.

James Buchanan's career in politics began when he was elected to the Pennsylvania assembly in 1813 as a Federalist after serving briefly in the War of 1812. In 1820 he was elected to Congress in the wake of a personal tragedy. He was briefly engaged the previous year to Ann Caroline Coleman, daughter of a prosperous ironmaster. The family accused Buchanan of wanting her simply for her money, and Ann was forced to break the engagement; she died a week later. It was the subject of intense gossip, and Buchanan never married, later making him the first and only bachelor president. His niece, Harriet Lane, would later serve as White House hostess.

He would serve five terms in the House of Representatives, first as Federalist, and after the demise of that party in 1824, he threw his support behind Andrew Jackson. Buchanan broke with him personally in 1827, after Jackson accused him of complicity with Henry Clay in the House of Representatives in the contested election of 1824, which ultimately elected John Quincy Adams president. Buchanan denied this adamantly and remained a staunch Jacksonian Democrat.

Democratic politics would determine his next appointment, as he and fellow Pennsylvanian George M. Dallas vied for patronage. Jackson made Buchanan Min-ister Plenipotentiary to Russia in 1832, where he served until 1834. Although this appointment was, in effect, a political exile, it enabled Buchanan to negotiate the first commercial treaty with that country, while giving him important experience in

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American Statesmen: Secretaries of State from John Jay to Colin Powell
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Credo vii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Introduction xix
  • Dean Acheson (1893-1971) 1
  • John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) 20
  • Madeleine Albright (1937-) 34
  • Robert Bacon (1860-1919) 41
  • James Baker III (1930-) 43
  • Thomas F. Bayard (1828-1898) 51
  • Jeremiah S. Black (1810-1883) 58
  • James G. Blaine (1830-1893) 61
  • William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) 74
  • James Buchanan (1791-1868) 83
  • James F. Byrnes (1879-1972) 88
  • John C. Calhoun (1782-1850) 98
  • Lewis Cass (1782-1866) 105
  • Warren Christopher (1925-) 116
  • Henry Clay (1777-1852) 123
  • John M. Clayton (1796-1856) 135
  • Bainbridge Colby (1869-1950) 141
  • William R. Day (1849-1923) 149
  • John Foster Dulles (1888-1959) 163
  • Lawrence S. Eagleburger (1930-) 179
  • William M. Evarts (1818-1901) 182
  • Edward Everett (1794-1865) 188
  • Hamilton Fish (1808-1893) 191
  • John Forsyth (1780-1841) 200
  • John W. Foster (1836-1917) 213
  • Frederick T. Frelinghuysen (1817-1885) 220
  • Walter Q. Gresham (1832-1895) 226
  • Alexander M. Haig, Jr. (1924-) 234
  • John Hay (1838-1905) Served 1898-1905 238
  • Christian Herter (1895-1966) 247
  • Charles Evans Hughes (1862-1948) 254
  • Cordell Hull (1871-1955) 263
  • John Jay (1745-1829) 273
  • Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) 279
  • Frank B. Kellogg (1856-1937) 293
  • Henry Kissinger (1923-) 299
  • Philander C. Knox (1853-1921) 307
  • Robert Lansing (1864-1928) 314
  • Hugh S. LegarÉ (1797-1843) 325
  • Edward Livingston (1764-1836) 328
  • James Madison (1751-1836) 334
  • William L. Marcy (1786-1857) 348
  • George C. Marshall (1880-1959) 351
  • Bibliographical Essay 363
  • John Marshall (1755-1835) 364
  • Louis Mclane (1786-1857) 368
  • James Monroe (1758-1831) 373
  • Edmund S. Muskie (1914-1996) 389
  • Richard Olney (1835-1917) 393
  • Timothy Pickering (1745-1829) 400
  • Colin Powell (1937-) 406
  • Edmund Randolph (1753-1813) 416
  • William P. Rogers (1913-2001) 421
  • Elihu Root (1845-1937) 430
  • Dean Rusk (1909-1994) 443
  • William H. Seward (1801-1872) 450
  • John Sherman (1823-1900) 466
  • George P. Shultz (1920-) 472
  • Robert Smith (1757-1842) 478
  • Edward R. Stettinius, Jr. (1900-1949) 484
  • Henry L. Stimson (1867-1950) 491
  • Abel P. Upshur (1790-1844) 498
  • Martin Van Buren (1782-1862) 504
  • Bibliographical Essay 511
  • Cyrus Vance (1917-2002) 512
  • Elihu B. Washburne (1816-1887) 521
  • Daniel Webster (1782-1852) 523
  • List of Contributors 535
  • Quick Reference Chronology of Secretaries of State 537
  • Index 541
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