Franklin Pierce, the 14th President of the United States, was born on November 23, 1804, in Hillsborough, New Hampshire. Pierce was more than just a career politician he was both a successful lawyer and brigadier general in the United States Army, during the Mexican American war.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Pierce entered politics at an early age. By the age of 24, Franklin Pierce was elected to the New Hampshire legislature. When he was only 26 years old, he was appointed Speaker of the New Hampshire legislature. Next, his political career led him to Washington, DC, as an elected representative and eventually a Senator for the state of New Hampshire.
In 1853, Franklin Pierce became the 14th President of the United States. Tragedy stuck the Pierce family just two months prior to Franklin taking the office of president. The couple’s eleven year-old son, Benny, was killed when the family’s train derailed. Despite the horrendous tragedy, Pierce endured and took the office while still grieving for his child.
During his presidency, Franklin Pierce embraced westward expansion and supported popular sovereignty in Kansas, which allowed the citizens of Kansas to decide whether or not to allow slavery there. Pierce’s stance angered many abolitionists, who referred to him as a “doughface,” a northern politician who sympathized with the South. During his presidency, Pierce also approved the Gadsden Purchase, which added parts of modern-day Arizona and New Mexico to the United States. Pierce’s presidency, however, is remembered for its inability to stem the rising tide of secession, and its failure to solve sectional conflict. Some historians rank his presidency as among the worst of all presidents. His support in the North was further compromised as he became a vocal critic of Abraham Lincoln.
President Pierce struggled his entire life with alcoholism and died at age 64, from cirrhosis of the liver.