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Arty Fact

More about Franklin Pierce

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Franklin Pierce was the fourteenth president of the United States, and definitely one of the worst.

If the government was high school, Pierce would be unanimously disliked and attacked with spitballs. The anti-abolitionist politician was so despised that his own party rejected him for re-election - he was the only president to suffer this indignity. Then the guy had the nerve to question President Lincoln’s handling of the Civil War, which only further convinced Northerners that Pierce was a little too cozy with the Confederacy. 

There was a time when Pierce was popular. His speech was commanding, compelling, even hypnotizing. But he would fall into obscurity, having failed to make a name for himself when opportunities were presented. Like that time he was promoted to brigadier general in the Mexican-American War, only to be knocked "groin-first" into his saddle when his horse got spooked. The horse tripped and fell on top of him, crushing his leg. His men thought he had fainted and declared, "General Pierce is a damned coward," before putting someone else in charge. 

Pierce was haunted by personal tragedy, as all three of his sons died in childhood. One died three days after birth, one at the age of 4 from typhus, and the third died in a train accident at the age of 11 when an axle broke and the coach went off the rails.  This death was the hardest blow, as it happened right before the President's eyes. His wife, Jane, would go on to say God was punishing them because Pierce became president (she hated politics). Doesn’t get worse than that. Maybe that’s the reason why Pierce favored a few drinks. At the end of his life, Pierce drank heavily and socialized very little. He would die of cirrhosis of the liver thanks to all that champagne and brandy he chugged.  When the Democratic Party refused to re-nominate him, he declared: “There’s nothing left… but to get drunk.”

Sources

Sources

  1. Carlson, Brady, “Franklin Pierce: NH’s forgotten president,” New Hampshire Magazine, October 18, 2017. Date accessed June 19, 2020. https://www.nhmagazine.com/franklin-pierce-nhs-forgotten-president/
  2. Cobb, Geoffrey, “Weekly Comment: G.P.A. Healy, the Irish Painter of American Presidents,” Irish America, February 9, 2018. Date accessed June 19, 2020. https://irishamerica.com/2018/02/weekly-comment-g-p-a-healy-painter-of-p...
  3. Eaton, Aurore, “Looking back with Aurore Eaton: attorney Franklin Pierce hired to defend the Shakers,” Union Leader, March 22, 2020. Date accessed June 19, 2020. https://www.unionleader.com/voices/looking_back/looking-back-with-aurore...
  4. Kelly, Kelly Jean, “America’s Presidents: Franklin Pierce: ineffective,” Leaning English, May 21, 2017. Date accessed June 19, 2020. https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/americas-presidents-franklin-pierc...
  5. Lundberg, James M., “Nathaniel Hawthorne, Party Hack,” Slate, September 14, 2012. Date accessed June 19, 2020. https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2012/09/nathaniel-hawthornes-biograp...