Biography of James Buchanan

By: Dylan Emory

Personal Life

In 1819, Buchanan became engaged to Ann Caroline Coleman.Their engagement was an unhappy one, however, and amidst rumors that Buchanan was seeing other women, Coleman broke off the engagement. She died shortly thereafter, leaving Buchanan brokenhearted, and her family to blame him for her death. Buchanan vowed to never marry, and he never did. James Buchanan is the only bachelor president in U.S. history.

Early Life

James Buchanan was born in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania, on April 23, 1791.As a young boy, Buchanan was educated at the Old Stone Academy in his village, and later, Dickinson College, where he was nearly suspended for bad behavior before finally graduating in 1809.After graduating from college, Buchanan moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he studied law. He enlisted in the military at the start of the War of 1812 and participated in the defense of Baltimore.


At age 23, he was elected as a member of the Federalist Party to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He later won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1821 to 1831. On March 4, 1857, was sworn in as the 15th president of the United States. In his inaugural address, due to the support he had garnered in the southern states, reiterated a major running point in his campaign: that slavery was a matter for states and territories to decide, not the federal government. By the end of Buchanan's presidency, the slavery issue threatened to tear the country apart.

Later Years

In his retirement, Buchanan devoted much of his time to defending his handling of events leading to the Civil War, for which he was ultimately blamed. In 1866 he published a book, in which he blamed abolitionists and Republicans for the war. The book was ignored, and Buchanan retreated into privacy. He died on June 1, 1868, at the age of 78, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and was buried in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.