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Buchanan, James

Buchanan, James (1791-1868), American statesman, and fifteenth president of the United States, was born in Pennsylvania, and was the son of an Irish farmer who had emigrated from Donegal. Educated for the bar, he obtained a large practice, in 1814 became a member of the State Legislature, and in 1820 was returned as a member of Congress. In 1828 he was a supporter of General Jackson for the presidential election, and the next year he was head of the judiciary committee of the House, in which capacity he conducted the impeachment of Judge Peck, a "leading case" in U.S. constitutional history. In 1832 as envoy to Russia he had a share in making the first commercial treaty between Russia and the United States. On his return he became a senator, and in 1845 he was secretary of state under President Polk, and in 1853 United States ambassador to Great Britain. In 1856 he returned from England and was elected president. It was during his administration that the troubles between the North and the South came to a head, he himself siding with the pro-slavery party. After the end of his term of office Mr. Buchanan took no further part in pubiic affairs; but in 1866 he published an account of his administration.