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Overview

When James Buchanan was elected President of the United States in 1856, he inherited a nation deeply divided by the fundamental issues of slavery and states' rights. Historians and political scientists have long debated whether or not the Confederate secession could have been avoided if Buchanan had not been a classical political thinker.

The James Buchanan Papers offers a comprehensive research collection for the study of this and other issues. Since Buchanan's life spanned the federal era of United States history, from Washington's first term until the Civil War, researchers can also study the entire early history of our country through the perspective of one of its presidents.

Buchanan's triumphs as well as his alleged failings can be viewed in these documents. Included in the material are:

 

  • incoming correspondence
  • outgoing correspondence, speeches, notes, and memoranda
  • third-party correspondence and miscellaneous papers
  • drafts and manuscript books by Buchanan and his biographers
  • printed material
  • business papers
  • legal papers and indexes

While slavery raised the bitterest emotions during Buchanan's term as president, he also faced other volatile issues such as the question of a protective tariff, free land in the West, and the distribution of federal funds. This important collection offers students of history, political science, political history, diplomacy, and international affairs ample opportunity to study in depth both the man's philosophy and the times during which he lived.

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