|Carroll County IAGenWeb|
Transcribed by Sharon Elijah January 8, 2021
FRANKLIN PIERCE, the fourteenth President of the United States, was born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, November 23, 1804. His father, Governor Benjamin Pierce, was a Revolutionary soldier, a man of rigid integrity; was for several years in the State Legislature, a member of the Governor’s council and a General of the militia.
Franklin was the sixth of eight children. As a boy he listened eagerly to the arguments of his father, enforced by strong and ready utterance and earnest gesture. It was in the days of intense political excitement when all over the New England States, Federalists and Democrats were arrayed so fiercely against each other.
In 1820 he entered Bowdoin College, at Brunswick, Maine, and graduated in 1824, and commenced the study of law in the office of Judge Woodbury, a very distinguished lawyer, and in 1827 was admitted to the bar. He practiced with great success in Hillsborough and Concord. He served in the State Legislature four years, the last two of which he was chosen Speaker of the House by a very large vote.
In 1833 he was elected a member of Congress. In 1837 he was elected to the United States Senate, just as Mr. Van Buren commenced his administration.
In 1834 he married Miss Jane Means Appleton, a lady admirably fitted to adorn every station with which her husband was honored. Three sons born to them all found an early grave.
Upon his accession to office, President Polk appointed Mr. Pierce Attorney-General of the United States, but the offer was declined in consequence of numerous professional engagements at home and the precarious state of Mrs. Pierce’s health. About the same time he also declined the nomination for Governor by the Democratic party.
The war with Mexico called Mr. Pierce into the army. Receiving the appointment of Brigadier-General, he embarked with a portion of his troops at Newport, Rhode Island, May 27, 1847. He served during this war, and distinguished himself by his bravery, skill and excellent judgment. When he reached his home in his native State he was enthusiastically received by the advocates of the war, and coldly by its opponents. He resumed the practice of his profession, frequently taking an active part in political questions, and giving his support to the pro-slavery wing of the Democratic party.
June 12, 1852, the Democratic convention met in Baltimore to nominate a candidate for the Presidency. For four days they continued in session, and in thirty-five ballotings no one had received the requisite two-thirds vote. Not a vote had been thrown thus far for General Pierce. Then the Virginia delegation brought forward his name. There were fourteen more ballotings, during which General Pierce gained strength, until, at the forty-ninth ballot, he received 282 votes, and all other candidates eleven. General Winfield Scott was the Whig candidate. General Pierce was elected with great unanimity. Only four States — Vermont, Massachusetts, Kentucky and Tennessee — cast their electoral votes against him. March 4, 1853 he was inaugurated President of the United States, and William R. King, Vice-President.
President Pierce’s cabinet consisted of William S. Marcy, James Guthrie, Jefferson Davis, James C. Dobbin, Robert McClelland, James Campbell and Caleb Cushing.
At the demand of slavery the Missouri Compromise was repealed, and all the Territories of the Union were thrown open to slavery. The Territory of Kansas, west of Missouri, was settled by emigrants mainly from the North. According to law, they were about to meet and decide whether slavery or freedom should be the law of that realm. Slavery in Missouri and other Southern States rallied her armed legions, marched them into Kansas, took possession of the polls, drove away the citizens, deposited their own votes by handfuls, went through the farce of counting them, and then declared that, by an overwhelming majority, slavery was established in Kansas. These facts nobody denied, and yet President Pierce’s administration felt bound to respect the decision obtained by such votes. The citizens of Kansas, the majority of whom were free-State men, met in convention and adopted the following resolve:
“Resolved, That the body of men who, for the past two months, have been passing laws for the people of our Territory, moved, counseled and dictated to by the demagogues of other States, are to us a foreign body, representing only the lawless invaders who elected them, and not the people of this Territory; that we repudiate their action as the monstrous consummation of an act of violence, usurpation and fraud unparalleled in the history of the Union.”
The free-State people of Kansas also sent a petition to the General Government, imploring its protection. In reply the President issued a proclamation, declaring that Legislature thus created must be recognized as the legitimate Legislature of Kansas, and that its laws were binding upon the people, and that, if necessary, the whole force of the Governmental arm would be put forth to inforce those laws.
James Buchanan succeeded him in the Presidency, and, March 4, 1857, President Pierce retired to his home in Concord, New Hampshire. When the Rebellion burst forth Mr. Pierce remained steadfast to the principles he had always cherished, and gave his sympathies to the pro-slavery party, with which he had ever been allied. He declined to do anything, either by voice or pen, to strengthen the hands of the National Government. He resided in Concord until his death, which occurred in October, 1869. He was one of the most genial and social of men, generous to a fault, and contributed liberally of his moderate means for the alleviation of suffering and want. He was an honored communicant of the Episcopal church.
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