FRANKLIN PIERCE: YOUNG HICKORY OF THE GRANITE HILLS
by Roy Franklin Nichols
ISBN 978-0-945707-06-6 $35.00
637 pages including notes, bibliography and index. 22 pages of illustrations.
Franklin Pierce - - the fourteenth President of the United Sates
- - has existed in the public mind as a stereotype rather than as a many-sided
human being. The predominate picture that we have of him is that
of a weak and shallow man, a "mediocrity" who left little imprint upon
the history of the United States. This stereotype, however, is grossly misleading,
for Franklin Pierce was not a simple man. Indeed, his personality
was complex, made up of varying strengths and conflicting inadequacies,
while his life, full of inner turmoil, had an aspect of overwhelming tragedy.
This authoritative biography makes available a full-scale
study of an unusually interesting human being. With the same thoroughness
and intensity that have distinguished all if his historical writing, Roy
F. Nichols follows Pierce's life from his earliest years in New Hampshire,
though his college career at Bowdoin, his marriage into the distinguished
ranks of an established New England family, his rise in politics, his services
as a brigadier general of volunteers in the Mexican War, and his election
to the Presidency as a "dark Horse" candidate of the Democratic Party.
Mr. Nichols minutely examines all the domestic and international
crises that beset Pierce's administration - - the growing conflict between
North and South that was to erupt within a decade into civil war, the abortive
attempt to annex Cuba, the troubled relations with England, the filibustering
activities of such men as William Walker which aroused much resentment in
Central America toward the United States. Not only does the author
refashion the exciting events of these critical days in American history,
but he also unfolds, with sympathy and compassion, the tragic developments
that dogged Pierce in his personal life -- his difficult marriage, his wife's
illness, the death of three sons, the final bleak years of obscurity before
he passed away, almost forgotten by the nation he had served.