The Life and Times of Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce was the 14th president of the United States. He served from 1853 to 1857. He was a northern Democrat and believed that the abolitionist movement threatened the unity of the nation. Despite his political views, many historians believe that Pierce was an exemplary president. We will look at a few of his achievements.

Franklin Pierce

Constitutional hero

In his lifetime, President Franklin Pierce had the task of restoring the Union. As a nationalist, he tried to find the middle ground between the two sides. His conciliatory approach swayed the country away from the breakup of the Union and the slaughter of more than 600,000 Americans.

However, Pierce’s presidency was marred by problems. His appointing of Jefferson Davis, a staunch pro-slavery politician, as Secretary of War in 1857 enraged moderates who had supported him. Meanwhile, his vice-president died of tuberculosis just six weeks into his term. This left him with no vice-president to rely on throughout his term.

Pierce’s personal life was troubled and complicated. He struggled to maintain a stable marriage with his wife Jane. His ambition led him to drink heavily. Although his wife was generally healthy, she was frequently ill. She wished he would quit politics. She was worried about his workaholism and increasing drinking habits. The marriage was troubled by these issues, and after the birth of his daughter Bennie, he promised to end his political career.


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During the Civil War, Pierce fought against the abolition of slavery in existing states, but he supported the right of Americans to own property. He also supported the Compromise of 1850, which ended the slave trade in Washington, D.C. and included the admission of California as a free state.

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Revolutionary War hero

In his role as President of the United States, Franklin Pierce straddled the line between patriotism and populism. His undereducated nature made him prone to political combat. But he also enjoyed camaraderie, so he embraced the Democratic party. This party embodied the received wisdom of his hard-boiled, Granite Hills-born father.

Franklin Pierce took office at the age of 48 and presided over a divided nation for four years. However, his rise to power was marred by numerous troubles, including alcoholism, depression, and his wife’s grief. But despite these setbacks, he continued his political career.

In 1852, the Democratic Party nominated Pierce as its “dark horse” candidate. The Democratic National Convention convened on June 12, 1852, in Baltimore, Maryland. Four candidates were competing for the party’s nomination, including Pierce. Most of the members of the Free Soil Party later moved back to the Democratic Party, which endorsed a platform that opposed further “agitation” over slavery and endorsed the Compromise of 1850.

Governor of New Hampshire

Franklin Pierce, Governor of New Hampshire (1851-58), was a man of many talents. A native New Hampshireer, he was a lawyer, politician, and a prominent political figure. Before serving as governor, he served in the New Hampshire legislature and was speaker for two terms. He also served as U.S. Attorney for New Hampshire and was a Brigadier General during the Mexican-American War. Before entering politics, Pierce was a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives from 1789 to 1802. He also served as Hillsborough County Sheriff from 1809 to 1827.

After leaving the state legislature, Pierce resumed his practice of law in Concord. He was appointed district attorney for New Hampshire and declined the appointment as Attorney General of the United States by President James Polk. In 1834, he married Jane Means Appleton, the daughter of a former president of Bowdoin College. Pierce’s wife was quite different from his own, a shy woman with deep religious beliefs and a pro-secessionist stance.

Many historians believe that the most influential aspect of Pierce’s life was his marriage. His love for his wife made him a popular figure in New Hampshire. Despite his political shortcomings, he was regarded as one of the most likeable and pleasant men in the state. In addition to his charm, he had a good knowledge of the political game. While he is remembered for his leadership skills, Pierce was also criticized for failing to adapt to changing times.

Pro-slavery Northerner

Pro-slavery Northerners were not the only antebellum Democrats who opposed slavery. Franklin Pierce, a member of the Democratic Party, also advocated democratic decision-making and transcendent moral values, such as the Constitution. He also argued against slavery and against the separation of church and state.

After he was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1833, Pierce joined the fight against the Bank of the United States. The Bank of the United States charter was being renewed at the time, which prompted him to vote against it. This prompted a raging controversy and a wave of opposition from both the free-sale Southerners and free-soil Southerners.

After leaving office, Pierce returned to New Hampshire and practiced law. He also publicly criticized President Abraham Lincoln and his administration during the American Civil War. When Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, an angry mob gathered outside of Pierce’s home, and he spent the last years of his life in seclusion.

Supporter of the Kansas-Nebraska Act

The Kansas-Nebraska Act is one of the most significant pieces of legislation passed during the Pierce administration. It was proposed by Democrat Senator Stephen Douglas and formally organized the states of Kansas and Nebraska as territories. This act repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and declared that the people of these territories had the right to decide whether they wanted to allow slavery in their territory. It also paved the way for a transcontinental railroad from Chicago to California.

In 1854, Pierce’s administration encouraged settlement in the northern region of the country, which fueled sectional tensions. The Kansas-Nebraska Act further angered antislavery northerners and spurred the emergence of the Republican Party. This act also caused Pierce to be criticized by many Democrats, who denied him the party nomination in 1856.

As an officer in the Mexican War, Pierce was appointed by Polk as commander of the 9th Infantry Regiment. He fought in Mexico until 1847, and was injured in the Battle of Contreras. After the war, he returned to New Hampshire and was elected as the state’s democratic candidate for president. The Compromise of 1850 had a controversial effect on slavery and Pierce was accused of cowardice by his supporters. However, he was endorsed by southern delegates and became the Democratic nominee for president.

Family tragedy

The political ambitions of the Pierce family were a source of much grief for his wife Jane, who was a devout Congregationalist and the mother of their son. Jane was angry with Franklin for everything that went wrong in their family, including the death of their infant son. She blamed his politics for the loss of her baby, and urged him to find another career.

The Pierces had travelled to Concord by rail when the train derailed on a snowy embankment. Jane and Franklin were only injured, but the eleven-year-old Benny was killed instantly. Jane was unable to recover from her shock or grief. Sadly, she never recovered.

The political crisis of Franklin Pierce’s presidency caused disapproval of him in the North. The writer Harriet Beecher Stowe called him an “archtraitor.” However, he was able to maintain a relationship with Jefferson Davis, the leader of the Confederate States of America. Both men had been friends for decades prior to the Civil War, and continued that relationship through the war.


Franklin Pierce was a Congressman and a US Senator from New Hampshire. Despite his political success, he was not a serious candidate for the presidential nomination in 1852. The Democratic National Convention began June 1 in Baltimore, Maryland, and four other major contenders competed for the nomination. Due to the Compromise of 1850, the party was divided on the issue of slavery. In light of this, Pierce was put forward as a compromise candidate.

Pierce appointed Democrats from all over the country to his cabinet, including Alabama Senator William R. King. He also appointed William Marcy, the Secretary of State under James K. Polk, who was an expansionist. Other prominent cabinet positions held by Pierce included Justice Caleb Cushing, Alabama Attorney General James Campbell, and Senator Jefferson Davis.

Although Pierce was a good friend of Abraham Lincoln, the Democratic Party began to tire of him and his unpopular policies. He faced a tough battle against Stephen Douglas and James Buchanan for the nomination, and he was pushed to the sidelines. However, he remained active in politics and served as a staunch critic of the president during the Civil War. His decisions on slavery were criticized for being biased toward pro-slavery forces. Later, the Kansas-Nebraska Act nullified the Missouri Compromise, leading to a race to settle Kansas. In the aftermath, the United States entered the Civil War. He died in 1869.