Object Image
Fourteenth president, 1853–1857

“What luck Frank has,” remarked Nathaniel Hawthorne when he began writing a campaign biography of his lifelong friend Franklin Pierce, the1852 Democratic candidate for president. Pierce coasted effortlessly through elections to New Hampshire state offices and to Congress, and risen from the rank of private to brigadier general in the Mexican-American War without firing a shot. Once in the White House, however, his luck ran out. When fighting erupted in Kansas between pro- and anti-slavery factions, Pierce, a Northerner with Southern sympathies, was unwilling to antagonize his Southern friends or to use the authority of his office to intervene. As a result, his a ...
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Oil on canvas
76.5 x 64.1 x 2.5 cm
Image and text © National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 2023

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