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Author Topic: James Buchanan question  (Read 892 times)
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Kalwejt
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« on: December 03, 2011, 10:22:35 am »
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James Buchanan earned his reputation as one of the worsts U.S. President mostly because of his failure to act in the face of secession.

The question is, what should have Buchanan do?

I think the major problem here, outside of his desire to avoid more mess as long as he's still in office, was his status as lame-duck when secession started and perhaps, in addition to his "secession is illegal, but doing something to prevent it is illegal too" attitude, he simply did not feel empowered to act with his successor already elected.

But let's assume for a moment Buchanan decided to act despite of all this. What should he have do?
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Cathcon
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« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2011, 10:30:23 am »
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Uh... taken more initiative in re-enforcing Fort Sumter? At the same time, letting General Winfield Scott do what he felt he had to do instead of saying that giving Scott the weapons and men would make him [Buchanan] look inconsistent?
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Ernest
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« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2011, 11:56:56 am »

Buchanan's problems as President began even before he was sworn in given his ex parte interference in the Dred Scott decision. The he tried to get Kansas admitted as a slave State. He was very maladroit in his handling of the Mormon problem in Utah.  And as CathCon as pointed out, he failed to take preventative actions prior to the Civil War when urged to do so.  Even if Buchanan decided to not reinforce Federal forts in the lower South for fears of aggravating Southerners, he could have chosen to remove military property from where it would be seized if Southern States seceded.
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Cathcon
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« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2011, 12:43:01 pm »
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Also, his war secretary had made sure to send a number of guns and weaponry South of the Mason-Dixon line before secession occured as I recall.
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Rooney
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« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2011, 09:19:48 am »
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Aditionally to what has already been said, President Buchanan should never have signed off on the Star of the West fiasco. That little bit of intervention has been blamed for fanning the flames of secession in several Southern states where more moderate attidues may have prevalied (such as Florida).
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Jerseyrules
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« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2012, 03:54:47 pm »
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He should have sent in the military to break up the southern rebellion immediately as recommended by former President Fillmore, if he wanted a "take-charge" attitude.  Also, supported Bell or Douglas over Breckenridge in 1860, and enacted some civil liberties laws.
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Ernest
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« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2012, 08:35:55 pm »

He should have sent in the military to break up the southern rebellion immediately as recommended by former President Fillmore, if he wanted a "take-charge" attitude.  Also, supported Bell or Douglas over Breckenridge in 1860, and enacted some civil liberties laws.

The military had a high proportion of Southerners in its officer corps, was largely stationed out west and was not particularly large.  Heck if Governor Pickens had not been an penny-pinching idiot, Major Anderson would never been able to make it from indefensible Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter, and that would have left no obvious place for flashpoint early in the Lincoln administration.

If anything, aggressive action by Buchanan after the lower south started to secede would have only gotten the Civil War started sooner, and with the North in worse shape.  It would have been entirely possible that Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri would have gone out in early 1861, and that there would have been serious fighting in California as well.

Now there are things Buchanan could and should have done before the election of 1860, but it is hard to see how he could have done better after the election, and very easy to see how he could have made it worse.
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« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2012, 10:57:59 pm »
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He should have sent in the military to break up the southern rebellion immediately as recommended by former President Fillmore, if he wanted a "take-charge" attitude.  Also, supported Bell or Douglas over Breckenridge in 1860, and enacted some civil liberties laws.

The military had a high proportion of Southerners in its officer corps, was largely stationed out west and was not particularly large.  Heck if Governor Pickens had not been an penny-pinching idiot, Major Anderson would never been able to make it from indefensible Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter, and that would have left no obvious place for flashpoint early in the Lincoln administration.

If anything, aggressive action by Buchanan after the lower south started to secede would have only gotten the Civil War started sooner, and with the North in worse shape.  It would have been entirely possible that Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri would have gone out in early 1861, and that there would have been serious fighting in California as well.

Now there are things Buchanan could and should have done before the election of 1860, but it is hard to see how he could have done better after the election, and very easy to see how he could have made it worse.

Yes.

One could say that Franklin Pierce and John Tyler were bad presidents.
However, "f***ed" is the only way I could accurately describe Buchanan's term in office.
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