James Buchanan

Buchanan was enmeshed in the antagonism between the North and South, as secession became a fact. His most interesting pieces relate to secession and the factors leading up to the Civil War. Also interesting are letters from his service as Polk's Secretary of State.

About Collecting James Buchanan Autographs


James Buchanan maintained an extensive correspondence as diplomat, political leader, secretary of state and president. His letters reveal a clever politician, but contain little about himself and generally make for an average read. He believed in his party’s policies and was well-written, however, few letters can be called inspirational or important. He seems to have had little to say thereafter.

As president, Buchanan was in over his head and wanted nothing more than to sweep the slavery question under the carpet. On his watch, Kansas exploded, the Dred Scott case was decided, while he sought to avoid trouble by mollifying the South. In the end, southern states seceded anyway and he used the last few months of his term trying to run out the clock and drop the burden into the lap of the incoming executive, Abraham Lincoln. When he left Washington and returned home, he stated that the way was lighted by his burning effigies.