Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Pierce, Franklin

PIERCE, FRANKLIN, an American statesman, 14th President of the United States; born in Hillsboro, N. H., Nov. 23, 1804. He was educated in the Schools of his native State and at Bowdoin College, where he studied in company with Longfellow, Hawthorne, and Prentiss, graduating in 1824. He was admitted to the bar in 1827, and in 1829 was elected to the New Hampshire Legislature. In 1833 he entered Congress, serving four years, and in 1837 was elected to the United States Senate, being the youngest member of that body, which contained such men as Webster, Clay, Calhoun, Benton, Buchanan, and Silas Wright. In 1842 he resigned from the Senate and retired to private life. He engaged in public debate with John P. Hale on the slavery question, Pierce advocating the constitutional right of that institution. In 1846 he enlisted for the Mexican War, was appointed brigadier and fought in the battles of Contreras and Churubusco. After the war he continued the practice of law, frequently advocating the political principles of the Democratic party in public, and favoring the compromise measures of 1850, including the Fugitive Slave Law. In 1852 he was nominated for the presidency on the 49th ballot, by the Democratic National Convention, and was elected by an electoral majority over General Scott of 254 to 42. During his administration the Missouri Compromise was repealed, a reciprocity treaty for trade with the British American colonies was made; a treaty with Japan was established; and the Mexican boundary disputes settled. After his term expired, he traveled abroad and, returning, lived thereafter in retirement at Concord, where he died, Oct. 8, 1869.