Buchanan: The Life And Times Of Lincoln's Predecessor

October 1, 2023|
Buchanan: The Life And Times Of Lincoln's Predecessor by Paul Kahan
Earn 195 plum® points
Buy Online
Ship to an address
Pre-order online.Free shipping on orders over $35
Pick up in store
To see if pickup is available,
Find In Store
Not sold in stores
Prices and offers may vary in store


James Buchanan was one of the most qualified and accomplished men elected to the presidency, and yet he turned out to be one of the worst. As sectional conflict veered toward civil war, Buchanan and all his preparation proved unequal to the challenges of his times. In this new cradle-to-grave, life-and-times biography, Paul Kahan reconstructs (but does not rehabilitate) the life of James Buchanan and emphasizes why and how such an accomplished individual proved unable to manage the defining crisis of the nation.

Drawing on a diverse range of primary sources, Kahan reconstructs the life of James Buchanan: his early legal career in Pennsylvania and his stint in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives; his service in the U.S House, during which time he helped consolidate the Pennsylvania Democratic Party around Andrew Jackson; his time as minister to Russia (which helped him avoid the Bank War); his years in the U.S. Senate; his term as Polk’s Secretary of State (during the Mexican War); and his service as Pierce’s minister to Great Britain (which, important for Buchanan’s career, kept him out of the country, and from taking a position, during the Kansas-Nebraska crisis). By the time he was elected president in 1856, Buchanan had assembled one of the most impressive resumes in American public life.

Approximately half the book covers Buchanan’s presidency, a tumultuous four years that left the nation teetering on the precipice of Civil War—and much of the blame can be laid at the feet of James Buchanan, whose southern sympathies led him to make a series of bad decisions that inflamed the North (Republicans in particular) and contributed to splitting the Democratic Party: support for the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision, the strong-arming of Kansas into the United States as a slave state, and an expansionist foreign policy that appeared to match up with southern dreams of expanding slavery beyond the borders of the United States. When southern states started to leave the Union after Lincoln’s election, lame-duck Buchanan—who opposed secession—was too weak, and weakened, to act firmly and in any event not inclined to inflame his friends in the South. It would fall to Lincoln, in many ways Buchanan’s opposite (a Republican, a prairie lawyer with but two years’ experience in the U.S. House), to save the Union, and Buchanan has always suffered—rightly—by the comparison.

Paul Kahan holds bachelor’s degrees in history and English from Alfred University, a master’s degree in history and literature from Drew University, and a Ph.D. in U.S. history from Temple University. His previous books include Eastern State Penitentiary: A History, a popular history of the prison; Seminary of Virtue: The Ideology and ...
Title:Buchanan: The Life And Times Of Lincoln's Predecessor
Product dimensions:400 pages, 9 X 6 X 1 in
Shipping dimensions:400 pages, 9 X 6 X 1 in
Published:October 1, 2023
Publisher:Stackpole Books
Appropriate for ages:All ages
ISBN - 13:9780811738408

Recently Viewed