The Democratic Machine, 1850-1854

By Roy Franklin Nichols | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
WHY?

ON March 4, 1953 Franklin Pierce entered office with the good will of an harmonious Democracy. As Congress assembled in December of that same year the feeling most prevalent within the party was one of dissatisfaction with the administration. The causes for this general attitude were to be found in the personalities of the men at the cabinet table including the President himself.

Pierce was a semi-brilliant man whose natural mental quickness made him superficial. He did not think deeply but considered simple and apparently real solutions sufficient for complex problems. This led him to believe that by treating all alike in the distribution of offices he could eradicate the animosities of years in a few months and harmonize hostile factions into a band of brothers. A second weakness in Pierce's character unfitted him to succed. His natural kindness of heart, his dislike of refusing any request and his desire for harmony led him to promise more than he could fulfill. The warmth with which he received seekers after favors seemed to them an assurance that all that was necessary to obtain was to ask. Furthermore because he did not openly take issue with those whose opinions he did not approve or whose requests he was not going to grant, he led most people to believe that he was in agreement with them and when he made his decision finally, there was much disappointment. He was charged with taking the opinions of the last man he talked with. Such qualities of mind and such behavior spread

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