14th U.S. President: Franklin Pierce

About the fourteenth President of the United States Franklin Pierce, his birth, death, biography, description, facts and quotes.

14th President FRANKLIN PIERCE

Born: November 23, 1804, Hillsboro, N.H.

Died: October 8, 1869, Concord, N.H. The cause of death is officially listed as "stomach inflammation" but it was well known that alcoholism had undermined his health during his last years.

Career: Son of a New Hampshire governor, prosperous lawyer, State legislator at 25, member of U.S. House of Representatives, youngest U.S. senator at 33. After one Senate term, he returned to private law practice, until he won appointment as a brigadier general in the Mexican War.

Personal Life: At 30, Congressman Pierce married the well-born Jane Appleton, a high-strung religious fanatic. Jane always hated politics, and after all of their 3 sons had died, the marriage disintegrated. In the White House, Jane wore black every day and spent much of her time writing notes to one of her dead sons. After Jane herself died in 1863, Pierce gave up his lifelong fight against alcoholism and abandoned himself to his drinking.

His Person: Height 5' 10", with wavy black hair, penetrating gray eyes, and a fine physique. Known as "Handsome Frank." He was vain and a colorful dresser.

Election: After 48 deadlocked ballots at their convention in 1852, the Democrats startled the nation by nominating the unknown Pierce as a "compromise" choice for President. As Sen. Stephen Douglas quipped: "Hereafter, no private citizen is safe." Pierce swept to victory in November over the dying Whig party and its candidate, Gen. Winfield Scott. Pierce carried 27 of 31 States, for an Electoral College margin of 254-42--though he won only 51% of the popular vote.

Term of Office: March 4, 1853-March 4, 1857 (4 years).

Little-Known Facts: During the campaign of 1852, the Whigs charged that Pierce--"the hero of many a well fought bottle"--had been a coward during the Mexican War. The truth was that as Pierce rode to the front in his 1st and only major engagement, his horse, startled by exploding shells, tossed him forward so that the pommel of his saddle was driven sharply into his groin. Pierce fainted; the horse fell, broke its leg, and tore Pierce's knee.

Quote from Pierce:

"You have summoned me in my weakness. You must sustain me by your strength."--In-augural Address

Quotes about Him:

"Whoever may be elected, we cannot get a poorer cuss than now disgraces the Presidential Chair!"--B. B. French, Pierce's former Secretary

"Frank, I pity you--indeed I do, from the bottom of my heart!"--Nathanial Hawthorne

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