15 - James Buchanan

James Buchanan was born on April 23, 1791, just a few miles west of Mercersberg, Pennsylvania, in a log cabin on the grounds of Stony Batter, a trading post owned and operated by his father.  The cabin where he was born was moved, but thanks to the efforts of his niece Harriet, a stone pyramid stands as a memorial on the site where he was born, which is now maintained by the state of Pennsylvania as Buchanan's Birthplace State Park.  John and I visited in the summer of 2015:

The log cabin where Buchanan was born has been moved three times, to Mercersburg in 1850, Chambersburg in 1920, and then to its current location on the grounds of prep school Mercersburg Academy in 1953.  I visited in the summer of 2015:

When Buchanan was five years old, his family purchased a lot in the town of Mercersburg, Pennsylvania.  They built a structure where Buchanan's father operated a store on the first floor and the family lived upstairs.  The building is now operated as the James Buchanan Hotel.  John and I stayed there, in the bedroom occupied by Buchanan in his childhood, in the summer of 2015:

While living in Mercersburg, Buchanan attended the Old Stone Academy until 1807, when he joined the junior class at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  I am unsure of his residence while in attendance at Dickinson. 

In 1809, he graduated and began studying law with James Hopkins in Lancaster, then the capital of Pennsylvania.  He rented a room across the street from the Hopkins mansion at the Widow Dutchman's Inn, a tavern on East King Street.  In 1814, he and a partner purchased a tavern on East King Street where he both lived and practiced law.  I believe that neither of these structures remain in existence.  

In 1821, Buchanan took a seat in the US House of Representatives.  While in Washington DC, he stayed at quarters maintained by Mrs. Peyton.

From 1832 to 1833, Buchanan was abroad.  He visited England for a month before moving on to St Petersburg, where he served for a little more than a year as Minister to Russia.  I am unsure of his residence while in St Petersburg.  

When he departed Russia in August of 1833, he spent a few weeks in Paris and then visited Ireland before returning to the United States.  He purchased and moved into a townhouse at 42 East King Street, once owned by his former fiancee.  This house is no longer in existence.

In 1834, Buchanan was elected as a US Senator from Pennsylvania.  He served in the US Senate until 1845, when he was appointed by President Polk to the post of Secretary of State.  During these years, while in Washington DC, he roomed with Alabama Senator, and future Vice President, William Rufus King.

In 1848, Buchanan purchased an estate in Lancaster and returned there when leaving Washington at the end of his term as Secretary of State the following year.  This home was his permanent residence for the remainder of his life.  I visited Wheatland in 1975:

In 1853, Buchanan became the US Minister to Great Britain.  For the first few months, he resided in the Clarendon Hotel in London before purchasing a home.  I have been unable to determine the location of the house.

In 1856, Buchanan left England and returned to the United States to accept the nomination for the presidency.  He lived in the White house from 1857 to 1861, when he retired to Wheatland.

On June 1, 1868, James Buchanan died at his home, Wheatland.  He is buried at Woodland Hill Cemetery in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  The photo below, with my father, was taken during my visit in 1975:

Meridian Hill Park in Washington DC is home to the nation's James Buchanan Memorial, commissioned by the United States Congress in 1918.  I visited with my friends Kristin and Carol in 2015:

Buchanan has also been memorialized with a statue in his childhood hometown of Mercersburg, Pennsylvania.  I visited in 2015:

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