Timeline Description: James Buchanan was the fifteenth president of America. He is most well-known as the president leading up to the Civil War. When he left office in 1861, he was considered one of the worst presidents in history.
|1791||James Buchanan's birth
James was born in Pennsylvania, and he was the only American president to come from this area. He grew up in a large family with ten brothers and sisters.
James attended an academy like many of his peers. He did well in school and eventually went on to study law.
|1812||Buchanan the lawyer
After studying law, James was admitted to the bar in Pennsylvania. During this time he also opposed the War of 1812.
|1814||House of Representatives
James began his political career by serving in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He later moved on to work in the US Congress.
Buchanan's political career continued down a steady path and he eventually ended up in the Senate. He served there until 1845 when he became Secretary of State.
|1845||The Oregon Treaty
While working as Secretary of State, Buchanan's biggest accomplishment was his work with the Oregon Treaty. The Treaty established a westward border for the United States.
|1856||The Presidential Election
During the years leading up to the election there had been much turmoil in America, as the citizens debated slavery. Buchanan spent much of that time out the country and had been able to stay out of the conflict, so there were no "hard feelings" against him and he won an easy victory for president.
Buchanan's term got off to a rocky start as it began with an inability by the Supreme Court to make a decision about slavery. People began complaining about Buchanan's leadership ability.
|March 1857||The Utah War
Another reason for Buchanan's rocky start was the Utah War, in which President Buchanan sent troops against the Mormon population in the Utah Territory. Many people believe it was all a misunderstanding, and either way, peace was quickly restored.
|1858||A block in politics
In the elections of 1858, Buchanan's political enemies won a majority of offices. They worked against him, blocking any of his proposals and causing failure on his part for much of his term.
In 1860, the US House of Representatives formed the Covode Committee to discuss impeaching Buchanan. They accused him of corruption among other things, but they never found enough evidence and the charges were dropped.
|November 1860||Election time
Buchanan held no desire to run for another term as president, but his party could not agree among themselves on who they would nominate. Tensions grew, and when Abraham Lincoln won the election for the coming year, several southern states seceded from the Union.
|December 1860||Buchanan's reaction to secession
Buchanan believed that secession was wrong, and he immediately fired the southern sympathizers. Soon the seceded states had formed the Confederate States of America.
|January 1861||Fort Sumter
Buchanan did his best to keep the country together, but when he sent ships to re-supply Fort Sumter in South Carolina, the southern troops opened fire. This began the Civil War.
James Buchanan spent the years after his presidency trying to get rid of the blame placed on him for the Civil War. He died a few years later and was buried in Pennsylvania.