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Franklin Pierce



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Nifty Facts About Franklin Pierce
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About These Pages
OK, why? Why go to all the effort -- the research, the writing, the designing -- and, let's be frank here, the considerable expense, to create a website about one of the string of hapless, forgotten, early 19th century American presidents? And why this hapless, forgotten, early 19th century president? And
who the heck was President Franklin Pierce, anyway?

To answer the second question first (the third question if you count "OK, why?" as a question), Franklin Pierce was the most hapless and forgotten of those pre-Civil War presidents. He was also the best looking.

These qualities make Pierce the most accessible long-ago president for our time. He is the most intimate of presidents (Bill Clinton excepted), the president our age most easily can recognize as a celebrity. And it is as a celebrity -- beautiful, flawed, but ultimately unknowable -- that we ultimately come to know Pierce. Thus does his brand rest.

As for the first question (or is it the second?), imagine if you will three otherwise educated and well-socialized individuals who, as children, took a sharp and unexpected detour to the Land of Obsession and stopped to drink at the Fountain of Presidents. what you end up with is stacks of books about the presidents that end in the late 1960s or early '70s, posters fit for framing and,
in the case of one of us, a set of presidential miniatures that he proudly displays to this day.

You also end up knowing
a whole lot of stuff that you can't do anything with. If you're lucky enough to meet the rare someone like yourself (or an indulgent historian or political scientist), you have a chance to talk about what you know. It's easy to talk about Washington, or Jefferson, Lincoln or FDR. There's so much to say. Not the case with America's 14th president. The one who can expound at length upon Franklin Pierce deserves praise as well as pity.

Please join us. You'll barely feel a thing.

-- David Holzel, 1999 (updated 2008)

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Nifty Facts About Franklin Pierce
 

 'A Republic without parties is a complete anomaly.' --Franklin Pierce, 1825

14th President of the United States: 1853-1857

Lived: 1804-1869

Birthplace: Hillsboro, N.H. (the only president from New Hampshire)

Religion: Episcopalian (the only president to affirm the oath of office rather than swear it)

Nickname: Handsome Frank, Young Hickory of the Granite Hills

Political party: Democrat

Nominated for president: On 49th ballot at convention in Baltimore

Whig opponent in 1852 election: Gen. Winfield Scott (Pierce won a landslide victory)

Number of states during Pierce's term: 31

Big events during Pierce's term: first stamped envelopes, 1853; Kansas-Nebraska Act, 1854; Gadsden Purchase, 1854; Ostend Manifesto, 1854; financial panic, 1857; first perforated postage stamps used, 1857

Sleaze: Fondness for drink

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Our Noted Experts
Todd Leopold edits CNN.com's entertainment and book pages and has an absurd fascination with our 37th president, Richard Nixon. He also writes trivia questions and hosts a trivia show in Atlanta, and will even answer to the name of "Mr. Trivia." His erudition once landed him in the seat of honor opposite Regis Philbin. Favorite president: Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Ben Bratman
is associate professor of legal writing at University of Pittsburgh School of Law and a former practicing attorney. His blog is Sui Generis. He proudly displays a set of presidential statuettes in his home. Favorite presidents: Theodore Roosevelt (R); Harry S Truman (D).

David Holzel is a writer and editor and is the enigmatic force behind this whole Franklin Pierce thing. You wouldn't necessarily know it because even now he's referring to himself in the third person. He's the creator of
The Jewish Angle ezine, owns a stack of books about the presidents (all but one ends with "Lyndon Baines Johnson, 1963-- ") and has an extensive library (two books) exclusively devoted to Pierce. Favorite president: Martin van Buren.

 

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