James Buchanan has been called one of the country’s worst presidents by many, including the BBC and Nate Silver. Buchanan served just one term from 1857 to 1861
his legacy was marked by high tensions leading up to the Civil War in which Buchanan appeared generally pro-slavery and found the issue to be a matter of state’s rights over federal oversight.
According to sources, Buchanan also felt that, “while the states had no legal right to secede, the federal government had no right to prevent them.” Even his official White House biography alludes to Buchanan appearing to give up after the foreshadowing of the Civil War gave a glimpse of what was to come.
Modern historians and critics condemn Buchanan for not addressing the issue of slavery or forestalling the secession of the Southern states over it.
Buchanan was conflicted by free trade as well as prohibitive tariffs , since either would benefit one section of the country to the detriment of the other. As a senator from Pennsylvania, he said: “I am viewed as the strongest advocate of protection in other states, whilst I am denounced as its enemy in Pennsylvania.”
Buchanan was also torn between his desire to expand the country for the general welfare of the nation, and to guarantee the rights of the people settling particular areas.
He is the only president never to have married. Buchanan was engaged once but never married. His engagement to Ann Coleman in 1819 lasted less than a year. He was 28 at the time; Coleman died rather suddenly that same year.
It was never revealed why Buchanan broke off the engagement, and Coleman’s death is just ambiguous, though some speculate it was a suicide, according to Encyclopædia Britannica
While he remained unmarried his entire life, Buchanan had a very close relationship with William Rufus De Vane King, a diplomat who served as U.S. senator and the nation’s 13th vice president—coincidentally, the only vice president never to have married