The former President's signed, handwritten reply to a request for an
ALS: "James Buchanan", 1 page, 6½x8. Wheatland, near Lancaster,
1862 August 12. To Wm Jas Marrin. In full:
"With many thanks for your kind wishes, it affords me pleasure to furnish you
my autograph." Seventeen months earlier, Buchanan's presidential term had
ended and he retired to his 22-acre estate, Wheatland, near Lancaster,
Pennsylvania. During Buchanan's last three and a half months in office,
South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas had
seceded. On February 18, 1861, two weeks before Buchanan's term ended, Jefferson
Davis was inaugurated President of the Confederate States of America. As he
approached the end of his term, Buchanan wrote to the widow of President Polk
that he was "heartily tired of my position as president. I shall leave it...with
much greater satisfaction than when entering on the duties of the office."
Buchanan's did not believe the southern states had the right to secede, but he
also doubted the federal government's authority to prevent secession by force.
As he wrote this letter, the enormous cost of a military resolution of the
sectional dispute was becoming clear. More Americans had fallen at Shiloh in
April 1862 than in the entirety of the Revolutionary War. A month after this
letter was written, the bloodiest single day in American history transpired on
the battlefield of Antietam, a mere 130 miles from Buchanan's Wheatland home.
Folds, one vertical through "m" of signature. Fine example.
For more documents by these signers click the names below:
PRESIDENT JAMES BUCHANAN
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