Historical Markers
Buchanan House Historical Marker
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Buchanan House

Hershey/Gettysburg/Dutch Country Region


Marker Location:
17 N Main St., Mercersburg

Dedication Date:
July 2, 1953

Behind the Marker

The Buchanan family moved into Mercersburg when markerJames Buchanan was six years old. As a young boy, he attended the Old Stone Academy, a local private school, and helped at his father's store, a general trading post.

Working at the store, Buchanan developed certain lifetime habits and interests. For example, he always kept careful account of his financial transactions. As president, he once noticed that he had paid three cents too little for a special food order. Even though the bill had been marked paid in full, he delivered the overlooked amount and lectured the White House porter.

Attentive to detail and protective of his own integrity, Buchanan could often appear overbearing to those around him. The store also introduced Buchanan to political talk. Trading posts were natural resting points and places for men to relax and discuss the problems of the day. The young clerk absorbed all that he heard.

Buchanan entered markerDickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania at the age of sixteen. Although an excellent student, the future president also had disciplinary problems at Dickinson and was suspended for "disorderly conduct" at one point. In 1809, Buchanan graduated from Dickinson and embarked upon a legal career.

To a degree, the troubles and talents of the young Buchanan appeared and reappeared throughout his adult career. He endured many scrapes as a politician but usually exhibited enough intelligence or agility to emerge unharmed – at least until the coming of the Civil War. "He was respected by all who knew him," recalled Alexander McClure, one of Pennsylvania's leading journalists, "even including his bitterest opponents."
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