Manage episode 266391369 series 1204414
When Buchanan entered the White House in March 1857, he seemed well positioned to accomplish his main objectives. A canny and seasoned politician from Pennsylvania with a reputation for moderation on slavery-related issues, Buchanan had a straightforward agenda: the amelioration of sectional tensions, the promotion of American prosperity, and the extension of the Democrats' control of the federal government.
Four years later, Buchanan left Washington convinced that he had done his best and accomplished much. In fact, he left behind a shattered Democratic party, a new Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, and a ruptured Union. Except for a cadre of faithful Pennsylvania friends, Buchanan's reputation lay in ruins. He has consistently been ranked among the least effective presidents in American history.