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James Buchanan Biography – 15. US President

Tall, stately, stiffly formal in the high stock he wore around his jowls, James Buchanan was the only President who never married. Presiding over a rapidly dividing Nation, Buchanan grasped inadequately the political realities of the time. Relying on constitutional doctrines to close the widening rift over slavery, he failed …

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Franklin Pierce Biography – 14. US President

Franklin Pierce became President at a time of apparent tranquility. The United States, by virtue of the Compromise of 1850, seemed to have weathered its sectional storm. By pursuing the recommendations of southern advisers, Pierce–a New Englander–hoped to prevent still another outbreak of that storm. But his policies, far from …

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Millard Fillmore Biography – 13. US President

In his rise from a log cabin to wealth and the White House, Millard Fillmore demonstrated that through methodical industry and some competence an uninspiring man could make the American dream come true. Born in the Finger Lakes country of New York in 1800, Fillmore as a youth endured the …

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Zachary Taylor Biography – 12. US President

Northerners and Southerners disputed sharply whether the territories wrested from Mexico should be opened to slavery, and some Southerners even threatened secession. Standing firm, Zachary Taylor was prepared to hold the Union together by armed force rather than by compromise. Born in Virginia in 1784, he was taken as an …

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James K. Polk Biography – 11. US President

Often referred to as the first “dark horse” President, James K. Polk was the last of the Jacksonians to sit in the White House, and the last strong President until the Civil War. He was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, in 1795. Studious and industrious, Polk was graduated with …

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John Tyler Biography – 10. US President

Dubbed “His Accidency” by his detractors, John Tyler was the first Vice President to be elevated to the office of President by the death of his predecessor. Born in Virginia in 1790, he was raised believing that the Constitution must be strictly construed. He never wavered from this conviction. He …

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Martin Van Buren Biography – 8. US President

Only about 5 feet, 6 inches tall, but trim and erect, Martin Van Buren dressed fastidiously. His impeccable appearance belied his amiability–and his humble background. Of Dutch descent, he was born in 1782, the son of a tavernkeeper and farmer, in Kinderhook, New York. As a young lawyer he became …

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