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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.

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Born: April 23, 1791 in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania
Died: June 1, 1868 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

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