The Life of Franklin Pierceby Nathaniel Hawthorne, Kenneth A. Brett School Staff
Franklin Pierce (1804 - 1869) was the 14th President of the United States (1853-1857). Pierce was a northern Democrat who saw the abolitionist movement as a fundamental threat to the unity of the nation. His polarizing actions in championing and signing the Kansas-Nebraska Act and enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act failed to stem intersectional conflict, setting the stage for Southern secession.
Novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne remained lifelong friends with Pierce. He wrote a glowing biography, The Life of Franklin Pierce, in support of Pierce's 1852 presidential campaign.
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There's no denying that this is an amusing read, but that's pretty much where the praise ends. It was written in 1852 and the terminology reads like it. Hawthorne describes Pierce's law career with lavish praise like "The eloquence of Mr. Pierce is of a character not to be easily forgotten. He understands men, their passions, and their feelings. He knows the way to their hearts, and can make them vibrate to his touch." In 1852 it probably came off less suggestive than it does 160 years later. Of course, Hawthorne and Pierce were old college friends, and the whole reason Hawthorne wrote the book was to help his friend get elected president. So it's not surprising that he lays it on thick. In summation, Pierce was a great student, and then a great lawyer, a great soldier in the Mexican War, and then became a great senator. If everyone votes for him, he'll make a great president.
"The Life of Franklin Pierce" was written, as campaign propaganda to get Franklin Pierce elected President, by his old college buddy, Nathaniel Hawthorne. Pierce then managed, more than any other person, to exacerbate the start of the Civil War. Pierce was also the only sitting President NOT to get his OWN party's nomination. Pierce then decided to go back to drinking, and worked for the South during the Civil War. Oh, one other tidbit. Franklin Pierce is the great-great-granduncle of Barbara Pierce, who married and became Barbara Bush, and had a son, George W. I guess mediocrity runs in the family.