James Buchanan, portrait by George Peter Alexander Healy, 1859.
flipFlip to The Presidential inauguration of James Buchanan, Washington, D.C., March 4, 1857.
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Oil on canvas depicting a formally dressed Buchanan standing next to a table, with his left hand resting on a map.

Credit: Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, gift of the A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust

The only Pennsylvanian– and only bachelor– ever to win the presidency, James Buchanan brought years of experience and a narrow interpretation of the Constitution to the White House when he took office in 1857. A consensus seeker, he sought unsuccessfully to settle the escalating slavery debate using the compromise politics that had delayed a civil war for eighty years.

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