Read JAMES BUCHANAN of Lives of the Presidents Told in Words of One Syllable , free online book, by Jean S. Remy, on

A strong, brave, young man from Ireland was the father of our fifteenth prèsident. He had come here in 1783, and bought a small farm in Pennsylvania; so well did he do that he soon bought a store as well; and when, on April 23d, 1791, at Cove Gap, little James was born, his father was quite a rich man. He sent his son to the best schools and he was just sixteen years old when he went to Dickinson collège. Here he took first place with ease. In 1809, when he left collège, he began the study of law. In the War of 1812 he served in the army; and at the close of the war his state chose him to help make her laws. He was a young man when his state sent him to Washington where he held his place in Congress for ten years. In 1831 he was sent to Russia to look out for our rights there; and in 1853 he held the same post in England. You see, he rose fast to the first place in the land, for in 1857 he was made prèsident. While he was in the chair of state, the Prince of Wales came here for the first time, and this shows that England felt we were now one of the big countries of the world, and that she must treat us as such.

It was while Buchanan was prèsident that Cyrus W. Field laid the first wire under the Ocean, by which words could be sent from this new land to those old lands on the other side. The talk about slavery was so fierce at this time that a fight in which brave lives were lost took place, and the name which shines out bright is that of John Brown of Kansas. He was a friend of the black men, and took their part. He struck the first blow in their cause at the fort at Harper’s Ferry, which he held for two days. He took all the guns that were there, as he wished to arm the black men and then lead them to the South to fight for their friends, held there as slaves. Of course this was against the law of the land, and troops were sent to seize this brave and good man. His two sons fought with him, and he saw them both shot down, but he did not give up till in the heat of the fight he fell with six wounds. He did not die at this time; after this he was hung as one who had fought against the law of his land. His last act, as he was on his way to the place where he was to be hung, was to kiss a little baby which a poor slave held up to him as he passed.

His death was not in vain, for from now on the question of slavery was the talk of the whole land, and in 1860 South Carolina took the lead and said that she would not bear the laws of the Union, but would rule her land in her own way. Soon, six more Southern states said the same; and these states which cut loose from the North were called the “Confederacy;” at the head as prèsident was Jefferson Davis.

This was the state of things when Buchanan left the chair, and went to his home in Pennsylvania, at a place called Wheatland.

In the last year of his life he wrote a book of his life, which is still in print. He died at his home on June 1st, 1868. He was the last of the “Peace” prèsidents, for it was Abraham Lincoln who took his place, and in his term the strife as to the slave trade led to our Civil War.”