Franklin Pierceby John DiConsiglio
Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire was handsome, gregarious, and famous for his cloquence. In private life and in politics, however, he proved to be unlucky and unhappy. As a young man he suffered from alcoholism, his wife was often ill, and their three sons died in childhood. A Northern Democrat with Southern sympathies, he was nominated for president in 1852 and won the election against a hapless Whig opponent. He soon lost the support of the North by enforcing the hated Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 and signing the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which promised to extend slavery in the new territories. When Kansas was swept by violence, Pierce supported proslavery factions and refused to send federal troops to restore order. In 1856, his party refused to renominate him, bringing his political career to a close.
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