Miller Center (American President: James Buchanan: Domestic Affairs)

James Buchanan (

James Buchanan (The White House)

Buchanan’s Fourth Annual Message 1860

Kansas Nebraska Act 1854

Franklin Pierce (

Franklin Pierce (The White House)

Miller Center (American President: Franklin Pierce: Domestic Affairs)

Letters form U.S. President Millard Fillmore and U.S. Navy Commodore Mathew C. Perry to the Emperor of Japan (1852-1853)

Millard Fillmore House–Presidents: A Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary (National Parks Service)

By: United States. National Park Service.

Millard Fillmore (

Treaty of Kanagawa signed with Japan (

Compromise of 1850 (


Zachary Taylor (The White House)

Miller Center (American President: Biography of James Knox Polk)

James K. Polk (

James K. Polk (The White House)


“American Blood on American Soil” (

John Tyler (

John Tyler – Tenth President of the United States

By: Kelly, Martin.

APUSH Timeline (: John Tyler)

Selection and Succession of the President (



#15 James Buchanan




James Buchanan composed his cabinet members from both the north and south to appease the already heated Americans. Immediately after his entering the office, the Dred Scott decision of the Supreme Court concluded that denied slaves as citizens of the United States, meaning that they could not present their case to the federal court and that the federal government could not intervene in the affairs of slavery. The court also commented on the unconstitutionality of the Missouri compromise that banned states from practicing slavery. James Buchanan thought that the court’s decision would solve the disputes, but the decision only furthered the division of the union.

The “Bleeding Kansas” disputes caused by the Kansas-Nebraska act continued into Buchanan’s Presidency and in order to appeal and gain the support of  the democrats pushed for the Lecompton Constitution. The Lecompton Constitution would quickly solve the problems in Kansas by admitting the state as a “slave state”, but by doing so would anger northerners. This would later by rejected and in a vote during the constitutional convention for Kansas, the state was admitted as a free state.

John Brown, a abolition extremist who committed murder in Kansas and tried organize an armed rebellion in Harper’s Ferry against slavery. He would be persecuted and hung for treason. For the Northern abolitionist, Brown was a martyr for their cause, but for the south Brown showed how far the North was willing to push for abolition. James Buchanan would lose control of the situation and stated in a speech “How easy it would be for the American people to settle the slavery question forever and to restore peace and harmony to this distracted country! They, and they alone, can do it. All that is necessary to accomplish the object, and all for which the slave States have ever contended, is to be let alone and permitted to manage their domestic institutions in their own way. As sovereign States, they, and they alone, are responsible before God and the world for slavery existing among them. For this the people of the North are not more responsible and have no more right to interfere than with similar institutions in Russia or in Brazil.”  James Brown worked to hold onto whatever integrity and unity remained of our nation, but at this point in time, it seemed that succession was imminent. Brown was too moderate in his actions, not extreme enough in his actions to appease neither the north or south. One may ask however, would a more forceful president like Taylor would have been better at this task.


Buchanan’s Fourth Annual Message 1860


#14 Franklin Pierce




Franklin Pierce entered office during a time of “great economic prosperity and relative tranquility” that was brought forth by the Compromise of 1850 passed under Fillmore’s presidency. For the time being, heated sectional disputes between the north and south were put aside. Known for being a Northerner that favored slavery, Franklin Pierce was accused of trying to expand slavery and he furthered suspicions when he sought to buy Cuba from Spain, an effort that failed.

Then came the problem with the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which was proposed by Stephen Douglas. The act repealed the the Missouri Compromise of 1820 which stated that with every slave state that joined the union, there would also be an establishment of a free state. Franklin Pierce believed that this act was to prevent the South from succeeding as they have long wanted to repeal the Missouri Compromise.”it being the true intent and meaning of this act not to legislate slavery into any Territory or State, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States..“(Kansas Nebraska Act)  The Kansas-Nebraska act pushed for popular sovereignty that would also citizens to decide whether or not to have slavery in their state. This caused Kansas to become the battlefield over slavery as northerners and southerners fought for control over the area, “Bleeding Kansas” had broke out in 1855. After his first term, Pierce wanted to become reelected at the end of his term, but his inability to control the situation in Kansas had cost him his supporters. Despite stating that he could make up for his shortcomings during his first term, he would not be reelected.

The north saw Pierce as an advocate for the south to expand slavery and his actions to annex Cuba and pass the Kansas Nebraska act only furthered suspicions. Not only did Pierce lose popularity in the north, his actions only worsened the  fragile relations between the North and South due to sectional dispute. Unlike his two predecessors, who desperately worked to hold the nation together, Pierce had destroyed the hard work of two the presidents before him.


Kansas Nebraska Act 1854


#13 Millard Fillmore



Party: Whig

Millard Fillmore was vice president during Zachary Taylor’s Presidency. Millard Fillmore replaced Zachary Taylor in office after Taylor’s sudden death during his term in office. President Taylor had opposed a compromise that would admitting California as a slave state, determining the decision of slavery in Utah and New Mexico by popular sovereignty, and strict fugitive slave laws. The Compromise of 1850 would be passed under President Zachary Fillmore’s presidency as he sought to prevent succession, despite he himself being opposed to slavery; Taylor was walking on eggshells.

He did believe. however that by signing off on the treaty, he was giving opportunity to improve transportation and develop trade. “Federal land grants encouraged the construction of new railroads.  Settlement continued to move across the prairies.” (Millard Fillmore house) Besides trying to hold the country together and pushing for improvements internally, Taylor focused on the expansion of American economy signing the Treaty of Kanagawa that would open Japanese ports to American trade in 1854. In Letters form U.S. President Millard Fillmore and U.S. Navy Commodore Mathew C. Perry to the Emperor of Japan (1852-1853),  Fillmore wrote that “I
 States.” In his pursuit to open trade with Japan that had closed its ports to foreign trade with the exception with a few countries, Millard Fillmore was successful. He was not an amazing president and there is not much that is highly significant in his accomplishments, but as a temporary substitute he did well to prevent internal problems to get out of hand on American soil.


Letters form U.S. President Millard Fillmore and U.S. Navy Commodore Mathew C. Perry to the Emperor of Japan (1852-1853)


#12 Zachary Taylor



Party: Whig

Zachary Taylor was the general that James K. Polk had sent to the Rio Grande river to invoke the Mexican-American War. He appealed to Northerners with his reputation as a war hero of the Mexican-American war that expanded American borders; meanwhile, he was favored by the South as he was a known slave owner. Despite being a member of the whig party, Taylor identified himself as more of a nationalist and opposed the idea of the creation of more slave states. Taylor pushed settlers in the new states to create state constitutions and by this action, by passing the territory stage to avoid disputes and admitting states immediately. This action angered Southerners; southern leaders threatened Taylor with succession, but Zachary Taylor responded by saying those “taken in rebellion against the Union, he would hang … with less reluctance than he had hanged deserters and spies in Mexico.” During this time of heated disputes between the North and the South, Zachary Taylor vowed to hold onto the unity of the United States and would do so even if it required the use of force, without compromising and he was successful in preventing southern succession at the time. Taylor, however, would die suddenly of illness 14 months into his term.


Zachary Taylor. (2015). The website. Retrieved 06:27, May 19, 2015, from


#11 James K. Polk


Term: 1845-1849

Party: Democratic

James K. Polk entered office as the “Dark Horse President”, in that he barely won his election and was an unlikely candidate for the democrat party in the first place. He appealed to American voters at the time who wanted expansion and had the idea of “manifest destiny” still on their mind. Polk’s platform to annex Texas and Oregon, gave him enough favor from the public to barely surpass his opponent Henry Clay in votes. After entering office, James K Polk had four goals during his presidency: create a new independent national treasury, lower taxes, settle problems in Oregon (several countries claimed to own this area, but Americans were already settled there), and to territories that would become California, Texas, and New Mexico.

The Oregon area was reoccupied by giving the offer of expansion of the Canadian border to the 49th parallel, when Britain declined; Polk threatened to reclaim the entire territory for Americans. Cheers for “54-40 or fight!” began to erupt. The treaty was signed as Britain accepted the offer of the 49th parallel to avoid war. Texas accepted offers to join the union as the 28th state in 1845. The annexation of Texas brought relations with Mexico to a sour taste as they had lost Texas in the Texas Revolution in 1836. Polk’s success in admitting Texas, brought to his next challenge; acquiring territories from Mexico. An offer was sent to settle the debts of Mexico to the U.S and $20M, that was rejected by Mexican Leaders. To put pressure to the Mexicans, troops were sent to the disputed border. When the troops were met by Mexican troops which attacked seeing the action of Americans as a threat, Polk had the reason to pressure congress into agreement for war. Congress declared war and began the Mexican-American War, the two year battle ended with American victory. “Mexico relinquished its claims to Texas. It also recognized the Rio Grande as America’s southern border and, in exchange for $15 million, ceded the land that makes up all or parts of present-day California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming”( James K Polk was successful in achieving all four of his aspirations as president. He was the perfect president in the coast to coast expansion of the United States. Acquiring lands that would become many new states.  Critics of Polk pointed out that his actions were not taking into consideration the possibility of disunion over the problems of slavery due to the Mexican-American War.

Whether or not he was an amazing president,  James K. Polk was a significant one in the terms of holding onto Jacksonian beliefs of Manifest Destiny. Successful in all of his aspirations, Polk in one term brought many changes that he had promised during his campaign.