What is the history of Franklin Pierce, and what are the revelant aspects of his life?

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Franklin Pierce was from New Hampshire, and was a college classmate of Nathaniel Hawthorne. He was considered very handsome, and was often referred to as "handsome Frank." He had two sons, one of whom died as a young man. He served in Congress for a short while, but at the behest of his wife and surviving son retired from politics. Later, when he was considering running for the Presidency, his wife and son (then eleven) begged him not to run. His wife warned him he would regret breaking his earlier promise. After he won the election and while on the way to Washington, the train on which he was travelling wrecked with only one casualty--his sole surviving son.  He was forced to take the oath of office after just suffering this tragedy. His wife never forgave him, did not participate in official White House functions; and remained secluded in the White House living quarters for most of his presidency.

During his presidency, the Gadsden Purchase from Mexico was completed, which secured the balance of the lower 48 states for the U.S. However, it was also during his Presidency that the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed. Pierce's support for territorial expansion was deemed by many of his own party to be a move to support the expansion of slavery. As a result, his own party refused to renominate him for the Presidency in 1856. After this, he permanently retired from politics and finally died in 1869.

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