POTUS Fact 15: The only Bachelor President

James Buchanan, Jr. (April 23, 1791 – June 1, 1868) was the 15th President of the United States from 1857–1861 and the last to be born in the 18th century. A member of the Democratic Party, he was the 17th United States Secretary of State and served in the United States Senate and United States House of Representatives.

Image of President James Buchanan
James Buchanan Jr. (1791 – 1868), 15th President of the United States (1857 – 1961)/Library of Congress.

To date, he is the only President from the state of Pennsylvania and the only to remain a lifelong bachelor.

He was also the only President who served as a militia and never went on to be an officer.

Buchanan remains the last Secretary of State to be President.

Buchanan had two different color eyes: One green, one brown. He had an unusual eyesight problem, one eye was nearsighted and the other eye was farsighted. In an attempt to aid the problem he often cocked his head to one side and closed one eye.

In 1819, Buchanan became engaged to Ann Caroline Coleman, the daughter of a wealthy iron mogul. She died shortly thereafter, leaving Buchanan brokenhearted, and her family to blame him for her death, to the point that they would not let him attend her funeral. In a letter to her father, he wrote that “I feel happiness has fled from me forever.”

Buchanan was the only President never to marry or have children. People sent him animals to keep him company: a large dog, two bald eagles, and a herd of elephants.

While historians argue that Buchanan was asexual or celibate, several writers have put forth arguments that he was homosexual or bisexual.

But to prove his homosexuality, in May 1844, Buchanan wrote to Cornelia Roosevelt, “I am now ‘solitary and alone’, having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone, and [I] should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection.”

When Buchanan eventually won the presidency, his orphaned niece, Harriet Lane (1830 – 1903), whom he had adopted, assumed the responsibilities of First Lady.

James Buchanan was the first US President to wear blue jeans in the Oval Office.

Buchanan was against slavery. As President, he would buy slaves in Washington and set them free in his hometown of Pennsylvania.

Buchanan had two different color eyes: One green, one brown. He had an unusual eyesight problem, one eye was nearsighted and the other eye was farsighted. In an attempt to aid the problem he often cocked his head to one side and closed one eye.

Image of Harriet Lane
Harriet Lane (1830 – 1903), acted as First Lady of the United States/Wikipedia.

He was a direct descendant of both King James I of Scotland (1566-1625) and Cleopatra of Egypt (69-30 B.C).

In his 1857 inaugural address, Buchanan vowed to serve for only one term. He kept his word and did not run for re-election in the 1860 presidential election.

“I am the last President of the United States!” – James Buchanan Jr. (1791 – 1868), 15th President of the United States (1857 – 1961).

On December 20, 1860, South Carolina seceded from the Union. Several more states followed and they set up their own country called the Confederate States of America. Buchanan did nothing. He didn’t think the federal government had the right to stop them.

Buchanan is considered by many to be one of the weakest presidents in U.S. history. His indecisiveness and willingness to stand by as the country divided was a major factor in the cause of the Civil War.

READ ALSO: POTUS Fact 10: First unelected President and the first without a Vice President

On his final day as President on March 4, 1861, he remarked to his incoming successor, Abraham Lincoln, “If you are as happy in entering the White House as I shall feel on returning home, you are a happy man.” Unfortunately, Lincoln never left the White House alive.

As of 2018, he is the most recent Democrat elected to succeed an incumbent Democratic president.

He died of pneumonia in 1868 at the age of 77.

Sources

Wikipedia

Ducksters

Fun Facts for Kids

Easy Science for Kids

Fun Facts About James Buchanan

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Ayomide Akinbode

Unbowed! Unbent! Unbroken! A Perfect Gentleman...

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