President James Buchanan and the Civil War

Annie69 By Annie69, 4th Oct 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>History

“What is right and what is practicable are two different things.”—James Buchanan

Although much has been written about Presidents Lincoln and Davis, and Generals Grant and Lee, little has been written about President Buchanan and his involvement in the Civil War.

President James Buchanan

James Buchanan was President when the US Supreme Court ruled on the Dred Scott case. In 1857, just days after Buchanan was sworn in, the High Court ruled that “no slave or descendant of a slave could be a US citizen, or ever had been a US citizen. As a non-citizen, Scott had no rights and could not sue in a Federal Court and must remain a slave.” The Court also ruled that the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was unconstitutional.

The pot is stirred

Far from putting an end to the dispute over slavery, the Court’s ruling only served to broaden the rift between the North and the South. The next four years were full of violence by abolitionists and proslavery forces alike, but not quite a war. It was President Buchanan, not Lincoln, who sent the “Star of the West” with reinforcements to Fort Sumter, South Carolina, in January 1861. It was James Buchanan who was President when the “Star of the West” was fired on and forced to return to New York without reaching Fort Sumter. And, it was James Buchanan who was President when the Confederacy was formed.

In researching Buchanan

It is interesting to note all these facts are found when researching Abraham Lincoln. Is that because not many people know who was President before Lincoln? Would these facts be lost in the study of the Civil War if they were found only under President Buchanan?

The Dred Scott case, for example, began before Buchanan was elected President and the Supreme Court’s decision was announced a mere two days after his inauguration.

Buchanan steps down and retires

After Lincoln was sworn in as the new President, James Buchanan retired to Wheatland, his home in Pennsylvania. Buchanan survived the Civil War, Lincoln’s assassination, and part of Reconstruction. He died on June 1, 1868.

References:

www.blueandgraytrail.com/event/Confederate_Order_of_Secession
www.historyplace.com/lincoln/dred.htm
www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/major-anderson-ft-sumter_Dir/star-of-the-west.htm
www.americanhistory.about.com/od/jamesbuchanan/a/ff_j_buchanan.htm
www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/Jamesbuchanan
www.millercenter.org/president/buchanan
www.historyplace.com/lincoln

Tags

Civil War, Dred Scott, President Abraham Lincoln, President James Buchanan, The Confederacy

Meet the author

author avatar Annie69
History column appears weekly in local newspaper. Also news, human interest, and pictures. My fiction and poems have appeared in literary anthologies and I've written 3 novels

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Comments

author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
8th Oct 2015 (#)

Wow you are my book on the Civil War, I learned a lot with you.
Thanks my dear Annie!

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author avatar Annie69
8th Oct 2015 (#)

You are very welcome and thanks for the feedback. It's nice to know someone shares my interest. Have a great day.

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