The former President, widely condemned for mishandling the secession crisis,
handwrites and signs an appreciative letter to some remaining admirers: the
newly formed Buchanan Reading Club of Cincinnati.
Autograph Letter Signed: "James Buchanan," 1¼ pages, 7¾x9¾, front and
verso. Wheatland near Lancaster, 1862 October 29. The former
President writes to Charles Edward Bennell, Esquire, Secretary. In full:
"I have, this moment, received your letter of the 25th Instant informing me
that a number of ladies & gentlemen at Cincinnati had formed themselves into
a reading Club & had honored me by adopting a Resolution calling it after my
name. I need not say how much this token of their regard has touched the heart
of an old public servant in retirement. It shall be ever gratefully remembered.
The Association conducted with wise & persevering effort, cannot fail to
prove highly useful both to its own members & to society. The solitary
reading of an individual for mere pastime is of comparatively little value
either to himself or to others. The information thus acquired soon passes away
from the memory & is forgotten, unless fixed upon the
memory & impressed upon the heart by an interchange of opinions with
congenial spirits. The participation of ladies in the duties of the association
is calculated to exercise the most happy influence. It will promote refinement,
religion & morality among its members. May the 'Buchanan Reading Club'
flourish & produce good fruit long after he, whose name it bears, shall have
been gathered to his fathers!" During the last years of his life, Buchanan
was accused of being a secessionist and a traitor, that he had been weak and
vacillating, and that he might have crushed the rebellion but instead had
encouraged it. In 1862, Major General Winfield Scott accused him several
times of mismanaging the Fort Sumter affairs during the last winter of his
administration. So the communication from the ladies of the Buchanan
Reading Club was a welcomed letter. Buchanan's position as President had
been that states had no right to secede, but the federal government had no
authority to prevent it by force. Buchanan believed that history would vindicate
him, but a panel of historians in 2006 voted his failure to cope with secession
the worst presidential mistake ever made. Fine condition.
For more documents by these signers click the names below:
PRESIDENT JAMES BUCHANAN
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