“Frequently, the more trifling the subject, the more animated the discussion.”
Born in New Hampshire, Franklin Pierce, 14th President of the United States, came from a well-known and prosperous family. Pierce’s father was a career politician, serving two terms as the governor of New Hampshire; Pierce followed in his father’s footsteps.
Pierce was nominated as a Presidential candidate mostly because the Republican party felt he had the best chance of winning the election. As President, he made more enemies than friends and reignited the fight over slavery.
- Franklin Pierce was born in Hillsboro, New Hampshire in 1804.
- Pierce was handsome and outgoing, but often suffered from depression. He drank heavily.
- Pierce married Jane Means Appleton in 1834. They had three sons, all of whom died in childhood.
- Jane was shy and often depressed. She rarely attended social events.
- Pierce served as a senator and a general in the Mexican War.
- He ended the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which divided the United States into “free” states and “slave” states. He signed a bill allowing residents in new states to decide for themselves whether to allow slavery or not.
- This new policy made both sides very angry. People from the North and the South rushed to Kansas to take part in determining its position on slavery. Over 200 people died and the state became known as “Bleeding Kansas.”
- Pierce was not nominated for another election. Even his old friends in New Hampshire abandoned him after he retired from the Presidency.
- Pierce’s wife died in 1863, at 57 years of age. Pierce died in 1869, age 64
Questions and Answers
Question: Why did Pierce end the Missouri Compromise of 1820?
Answer: Many politicians feared that ending the Missouri Compromise of 1820 would lead to more fighting and bloodshed; for some reason, Pierce didn’t seem to understand the potential danger. He may have been swayed by his Southern advisors who were heartily for the policy change.
Visit Whitehouse.org to learn more about Franklin Pierce.