Skip to main content

Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)

Portrait, Franklin Pierce 

Franklin Pierce

14th President of the United States
(March 4, 1853 to March 3, 1857)

Nickname: "Young Hickory of the Granite Hills"

Born: November 23, 1804, in Hillsborough (now Hillsboro), New Hampshire
Died: October 8, 1869, in Concord, New Hampshire

Father: General Benjamin Pierce

Mother: Ann Kendrick Pierce
Married: Jane Means Appleton (1806-1863), on November 10, 1834
Children: Franklin Pierce (1836); Frank Robert Pierce (1839-43); Benjamin Pierce (1841-53)

Religion: Episcopalian
Education: Graduated from Bowdoin College (1824)
Occupation: Lawyer, public official
Political Party: Democrat
Other Government Positions:

  • Served in New Hampshire Legislature, 1829-33
  • Member of U.S. House of Representatives, 1833-37
  • Unites States Senate, 1837-42

Presidential Salary: $25,000/year

Vice President: William R. King (1853-57)


Secretary of State
William L. Marcy (1853-57)
Secretary of the Treasury
James Guthrie (1853-57)
Secretary of War
Jefferson Davis (1853-57)
Attorney General
Caleb Cushing (1853-57)
Postmaster General
James Campbell (1853-57)
Secretary of the Navy
James C. Dobbin (1853-57)
Secretary of the Interior
Robert McClelland (1853-57)

Notable Events:

  • 1853
    • Gadsden Purchase
  • 1854
    • Kansas-Nebraska Act
    • Ostend Manifesto
    • Treaty with Japan negotiated by Commodore Matthew Perry

Points of Interest:

  • Pierce was arrested while in office for running over an old woman with his horse, but his case was dropped due to insufficient evidence in 1853.
  • He defeated his old commanding officer from the Mexican War, Winfield Scott, when he was elected president.
  • Pierce was wounded during the Mexican War.
  • One of the Democratic party's slogans during Pierce's campaign for president was: "We Polked you in 1844; we shall Pierce you in 1852."
  • Benjamin, Pierce's third and only surviving child, died in a railroad accident two months before his father's inauguration.
  • Because of religious considerations Pierce affirmed rather than swore the Presidential oath of office.
  • Pierce gave his 3,319-word inaugural address from memory, without the aid of notes.
  • Pierce was the only President to have no turnover in his cabinet.
  • Pierce was the only elected President who sought but did not win his party's nomination for a second term.
  • During his second year at Bowdoin College in Maine, Pierce had the lowest grades out of anyone in his class. He changed his study habits, and graduated third in his class. Among his class mates were Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
  • Franklin Pierce was the first President to have a Christmas tree in the White House.
  • He installed the first central-heating system and the first bathroom with hot and cold water in the White House.
  • Pierce was an avid fisherman.
  • Pierce died of cirrhosis of the liver as a result of years of heavy drinking.