On November 23, 1804, in the quite
large county of Hillsborough, New Hampshire, a future president was born.
Franklin Pierce was one of eight children of Benjamin Pierce, American
Revolution hero and twice elected governor of New Hampshire, and Anna Kendrick
Pierce. As a child, Pierce attended various private schools and took up an
interest in law. In fall 1820, Pierce started attendance at Bowdoin College in
Brunswick, Maine. In 1824, Pierce graduated and about three short years later,
he was admitted to the bar exam to further his education into law. In 1820,
Pierce won the election to the New Hampshire state legislature and two years
later become the state legislature speaker. When Pierce was roughly 30 years
old, he married Jane Appleton, the former president of Bowdoin University. Together
they had 3 sons, Franklin Jr., Franklin Robert, and Benjamin Pierce. For four
years, two terms, Pierce served in the House of Representatives and six years,
one term, as the Senate. Spending so much time in Washington, Pierce became a
popular character. Even with his growing popularity, Jane was often sick and
unhappy with their life in Washington. Pierce gave up his Senate seat and moved
Jane and himself back to Concord and shared in the legal community of Concord.
In the time right before Pierce’s
presidency, slavery was at large and the Democratic platform stood next to the
Compromise of 1850 which helped state the free decision states that could
basically decide whether they wanted to be a slave state or a free state.
Unlike the democratic platform, the Whig Party took a different stance on
slavery and was very divided and mixed up about the Compromise of 1850. Due to
this, the southerners didn’t like the opposing candidate to Pierce, Winfield
Scott, who was the Whig candidate, which helped Pierce win the election of 1853.
Soon before taking office, Pierce, his wife, and son, Benjamin were taking a
trip to Concord from Boston, tragedy struck and the train they were riding on
crashed. Pierce and his wife were only slightly injured but the crash killed their
son. Due to Jane never being able to fully recovered from the loss of her son,
she hated the fact he was president and did not serve many of her social duties
as First Lady. During his presidency, Pierce only enjoyed having a vice
presidency of William R. King for about six weeks because soon after election
King died from tuberculosis.
Slavery was becoming a major deal
again soon after the Compromise of 1850. States were fighting over decisions
made and everyone had differing opinions about who should and should not be a
slave state. States, such as Kansas, had not made an official decision yet and
people were trying to win them over to a certain side, that being pro-slavery
or anti-slavery. People flooded Kansas to try and persuade them to make a