Franklin Pierce was the 14th President of the United States of America. He remained the President from 1853 to 1857.
During his term, the differences between the northern and southern states reignited. He is also known for the famous Gadsden Purchase which brought the modern-day areas of southern Arizona and New Mexico into American control.
He is considered a relatively ineffective President because he couldn’t bridge the sharp differences between the North and the South.
Franklin Pierce was born on November 23, 1804 in Hillsboro, New Hampshire.
Franklin Pierce was born to a family with a background in politics. His father had served as the Governor of New Hampshire for a period.
Pierce received formal education at an early age and later took admission in the Bowdoin College, Maine. After graduating from the college, he studied law and after passing the bar exam, started practicing law in 1827.
Franklin Pierce’s political career began when he was elected to the New Hampshire State Legislature in 1829. He was eventually elected as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and later also as a U.S. Senator.
Pierce also had an experience in the military, most of which was gained during the Mexican-American War. Pierce had volunteered to fight in the war and due to his valor, gained rapid promotion to the rank of Brigadier-General. He was seriously wounded during the war at the Battle of Contreras.
Franklin Pierce was nominated for the Presidency in 1852. This was a time when both the northern and southern states strongly supported their own stances.
The North supported the Union and opposed slavery while the South supported slavery and state rights. Pierce didn’t have a clear stance on slavery, so when he ran for Presidency, he was able to attract support from both sides. So he became the President in 1853.
However, he was very ineffective in the office. In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed with Pierce’s support. This Act reopened the question of slavery.
According to this Act, the new states were now allowed to decide whether or not they wanted slavery in their territory. The southern states liked this but the northern states were bitterly opposed to this Act. Pierce also chose Jefferson Davis as his Secretary of State and Davis later became the President of the Confederacy.
Some positive developments also took place during his term. For instance, Pierce was able to conclude the Gadsden Purchase according to which American government purchased the territories of southern Arizona and New Mexico from Mexico for $10 million.
Another important event during his term was the treaty between USA and Japan which opened Japan for trade.
Franklin Pierce’s presidential term came to an end in 1857. Due to his unpopular policies, he was not nominated by his party for a second term. So he retired and returned to his home state, New Hampshire. He died on October 8, 1869 in Concord, New Hampshire.