by Philip S. Klein

ISBN 978-0-945707-11-0     $35.00

506 pages including notes, bibliography, index, and illustrations.

  The life of James Buchanan is in essence the story of a man who declined to be a dictator. Republics are traditionally ungrateful, and in Buchanan's case the American republic has been notoriously thankless to the man who was, from log cabin to White House, the relentless foe of fanatics and demagogues; a man who held that reason and restraint were the essential tools of self-government, and who bent all his energies to achieve by means of law and diplomacy what others later sought to accomplish by civil war.
   As a result of nearly fifty years' experience in the public service, James Buchanan entered the presidency with more advance training than any man who has ever held that post.  As a Congressman he sustained the power of the Supreme Court to review state laws in an argument that Charles Warren has called "one of the great and signal documents in the history of American constitutional law."  In the Senate he worked incessantly to keep clearly defined the delicate line between the powers of the executive, judicial, and legislative branches and between the state and federal governments.  While he was Minister to Russia he negotiated the first commercial treaty with that country; his English Mission diminished the traditional American hatred for England and laid the foundations for subsequent Anglo-American friendship.
   As Secretary of State he presided over negotiations leading to the acquisition of the western third of the Continental United States, launched the "good neighbor" policy in Latin America, and insisted upon international rights of neutrals and the rights of American citizens abroad.  Buchanan the politician maintained control of his home state against the challenge of such powerful rivals as Simon Cameron, George M. Dallas, and Thaddeus Stevens.  In the presidency he fought sectionalism by initiating policies intended to arouse national patriotism, and he sought by law to attain a long-range solution to the slavery problem.  In the closing months of his term of office he refused to yield to the demands of extremists, both northern and southern, for knew that either course would precipitate a war which almost no one wanted.

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