Monday, March 22, 2010

James Buchanan: Bad President!

Democrat, March 4, 1857 – March 4, 1861, one term

Buchanan regularly makes the top five of Worst Presidents, but it has nothing to do with the rumors that he was gay. Widely considered to have been in waaay over his head, he was elected basically because he was considered untainted by the disastrous Kansas-Nebraska Bill of his predecessor Franklin Pierce. He had been abroad (not a gay innuendo) as the US ambassador to the UK for four years and was considered an ideal compromise candidate. Sorry Stephen A. Douglas!

Buchanan was the only US President to remain a bachelor. (not a gay innuendo)

A Northerner with Southern sympathies, (they called them “doughfaces”, which originally referred to “an actual mask (neither a gay, nor an S&M innuendo) made of dough, but came to be used in a disparaging context for someone, especially a politician, who is perceived to be pliable and moldable”! Isn’t history wonderful?) Buchanan mistakenly made the assumption that the slavery issue was all settled after the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott ruling. (The Court ruled that Congress had no constitutional power to exclude slavery in the territories. Yeah, that’s a great idea – “Let’s just leave it to all those law-abiding, rights-of-man-respecting crackers in the territories to do the right thing - let’s let Industry self-regulate!”)

Slavery slavery slavery!

Buchanan was a big supporter of admitting Kansas into the Union as a slave state, which pissed off almost everybody but slave owners eager to spread their scabrous custom into the west. He enthusiastically got behind (not a gay innuendo) a draft of the Kansas constitution that allowed slavery, which Congress thankfully rejected. He was so sympathetic to the slaveholders that he actually made the claim, during his 3rd State of the Union Address that the slaves were "treated with kindness and humanity.... Both the philanthropy and the self-interest of the master have combined to produce this humane result" Ooops!

He did nothing to respond to a big financial crisis in 1857; his administration was permeated with corruption; he was the architect of “Buchanan’s Blunder” , the wacky misadventures of the U.S. troops sent to Utah to put down a nonexistent Mormon uprising; he didn’t act when South Carolina and six other states pulled out of the Union in 1860 . . . waaay over his head.

So relieved when Abe Lincoln finally replaced him in the White House, Buchanan was reported to have told Lincoln, "If you are as happy in entering the White House as I shall feel on returning to Wheatland you are a happy man."

Fun Facts: Buchanan and William Rufus King's close relationship prompted Andrew Jackson to refer to Buchanan and King as "Miss Nancy" and "Aunt Fancy" (most definitely a gay innuendo)

In photos and paintings of Buchanan, his head was almost invariably cocked to the left. He was not pretending to be a dog. This was the result of an unusual sight disorder, in which one eye was short-sighted and the other long-sighted.

His nickname, almost inexplicably, was “Old Buck”. Maybe he was pretending to be a dog.

Because he never married, Harriet Lane, his niece, acted as his First Lady. Gosh, I hope she called him “Uncle Buck”.


Isaac said...


Anonymous said...

He was called "Old Buck" because many people mispronounced his name as Buck-nan instead of the correct Bu-can-non; and "Old Buck" is an affectionate abbreviation of the mispronounced name.