From: "Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and
Brown Counties, Illinois 1892", by Biographical Review Publishing
Company, Chicago, Illinois; pages 76-79, a reprinted by Stevens
Publishing Co., Astoria, Ill., 1971, is sold by the Schuyler County
Historical Society, Rushville, Illinois.
FRANKLIN PIERCE, the fourteenth President of the United States, was
born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, November 23, 1804. His father,
Governor Benjamin Pierce, was a Revolutionary soldier, a man of rigid
integrity; was for several years in the State Legislature, a member of
the Governor's council and a General of the militia.
Franklin was the sixth of eight children. As a boy he listened
eagerly to the arguments of his father, enforced by strong and ready
utterance and earnest gesture. It was in the days of intense political
excitement, when, all over the New England States, Federalists and
Democrats were arrayed so fiercely against each other.
In 1820 he entered Bowdoin College, at Brunswick, Maine, and
graduated in 1824, and commenced the study of law in the office of
Judge Woodbury, a very distinguished lawyer, and in 1827 was admitted
to the bar. He practiced with great success in Hillsborough and
Concord. He served in the State Legislature four years, the last two of
which he was chosen Speaker of the House by a very large vote.
In 1833 he was elected a member of Congress. In 1837 ne was
elected to the United States Senate, just as Mr. Van Buren commenced
In 1834 he married Miss Jane Means Appleton, a lady admirably
fitted to adorn every station with which her husband was honored. Three
sons born to them all found an early grave.
Upon his accession to office, President Polk appointed Mr.
Pierce Attorney-General of the United States, but the offer was
declined in consequence of numerous professional engagements at home
and the precarious state of Mrs. Pierce's health. About the same time
he also declined the nomination for Governor by the Democratic party.
The war with Mexico called Mr. Pierce into the army. Receiving
the appointment of Brigadier-General, he embarked with a portion of his
troops at Newport, Rhode Island, May 27, 1847. He served during this
war, and distinguished himself by his bravery, skill and excellent
judgment. When he reached his home in his native State he was
enthusiastically received by the advocates of the war, and coldly by
its opponents. He resumed the practice of his profession, frequently
taking- an active part in political questions, and giving his support
to the pro-slavery wing of the Democratic party.
June 12, 1852, the Democratic convention met in Baltimore to
nominate a candidate for the Presidency. For four days they continued
in session, and in thirty-five ballotings no one had received the
requisite two-thirds vote. Not a vote had been thrown thus far for
General Pierce. Then the Virginia delegation brought forward his name.
There were fourteen more ballotings, during which General Pierce gained
strength, until, at the forty-ninth ballot, he received 282 votes, and
all other candidates eleven. General Winfield Scott was the Whig
candidate. General Pierce was elected with great unanimity. Only four
States Vermont, Massachusetts, Kentucky and Tennessee cast their
electoral votes against him. March 4, 1853, he was inaugurated
President of the United States, and William R. King, Vice-President.
President Pierce's cabinet consisted of William S. Marcy, James
Guthrie, Jefferson Davis, James C. Dobbin, Robert McClelland, James
Campbell and Caleb dishing.
At the demand of slavery the Missouri Compromise was repealed,
and all the Territories of the Union were thrown open to slavery. The
Territory of Kansas, west of Missouri, was settled by emigrants mainly
from the North. According to law, they were-about to meet and decide
whether slavery or freedom should be the law of that realm. Slavery in
Missouri and other Southern States rallied her armed legions, marched
them into Kansas, took possession of the polls, drove away the
citizens, deposited their own votes by handfuls, went through the farce
of counting them, and then declared that, by an overwhelming majority,
slavery was established in Kansas. These facts nobody denied, and yet
President Pierce's administration felt bound to respect the decision
obtained by such votes. The citizens of Kansas, the majority of whom
were free-State men, met in convention and adopted the following
"Resolved, That the body of men who, for the past two months,
have been passing laws for the people of our Territory, moved,
counseled and dictated to by the demagogues of other States, are to us
a foreign body, representing only the lawless invaders who elected
them, and not the people of this Territory ; that we repudiate their
action as the monstrous consummation of an act of violence, usurpation
and fraud unparalleled in the history of the Union."
The free-State people of Kansas also sent a petition to the
General Government, imploring its protection. It; reply the President
issued a proclamation, declaring that Legislature thus created must be
recognized as the legitimate Legislature of Kansas, and that its laws
were binding upon the people, and that, if necessary, the whole force
of the Governmental arm would be put forth to enforce those laws.
James Buchanan succeeded him in the Presidency, and, March 4,
1857, President Pierce retired to his home in Concord, New Hampshire.
When the Rebellion burst forth Mr. Pierce remained steadfast to the
principles he had always cherished, and gave his sympathies to the
pro-slavery party, with which he had ever been allied. He declined to
do anything, either by voice or pen, to strengthen the hands of the
National Government. He resided in Concord until his death, which
occurred in October, 1869. He was one of the most genial and social of
men, generous to a fault, and contributed liberally of his moderate
means for the alleviation of suffering and Want. He was an honored
communicant of the Episcopal church.