James Buchanan
Burial Location Visited President Grave #
Lancaster, Pennsylvania July 7, 2005 24th Visited

James Buchanan, frequently
ranked among the worst U.S.
presidents, is the sole person
buried in this well-maintained
plot at the Woodward Hill

These tombstones near the president's plot
were in disrepair when I first went to the
cemetery in 2005, but I was glad to see they
had been restored by the time I made a
a second visit in 2013.

Buchanan was the only president from
Pennsylvania, and he was the last Democrat
elected to the office until Grover Cleveland
won in 1884, nearly thirty years after
Buchanan's 1856 victory against John C.

A 1950s Marx figurine of James Buchanan
made the trip to the grave as well.

                                       *** Interesting Facts ***

* James Buchanan's love life has always been curiously shrouded in mystery. He was the only president to never marry, though at one point he was engaged to a young woman named Ann Coleman. Many felt that Buchanan was only marrying Ann for her money (her father was a wealthy businessman), and disapproved of the engagement. For reasons unknown, Ann broke off the engagement and died shortly thereafter. Some, including the attending physician, believed that her death was the result of suicide brought on by heartbreak. Buchanan was banned from Ann's funeral by her family. Overcome by his emotions, he vowed that he would never marry. Additionally, many have questioned his relationship with politician William Rufus King. The two lived with each other for at least fifteen years (before King became vice president) and were very close to one another. People speculated that the two had a romantic relationship, and President Jackson himself referred to the pair as “Miss Nancy and Aunt Fancy”. Together, their nieces destroyed all of the letters the pair sent each other, fueling the myth that the two were homosexuals.

* Other posts held by Buchanan during his political career were minister to Russia, U.S. senator, and secretary of state under President James Knox Polk. Buchanan was also offered a position on the Supreme Court, but the Pennsylvanian turned down the invitation. One of Polk's successor's, Franklin Pierce, appointed Buchanan the minister to Great Britain after he won the 1852 presidential election. In 1857, Buchanan was on the way to the White House himself, unprepared for the issues and the misery that awaited him.

* From many standpoints, James Buchanan was America's worst president. Though there was little that Buchanan could have done to prevent the American Civil War, he certainly did not even attempt to do anything. Buchanan believed that it was wrong for the South to secede from the United States, but he also felt that it was wrong to wage war on the southerners. Therefore, he decided to stand by idly as the country disintegrated before his very eyes. Upon his retirement from the presidency in 1861, he reportedly told his successor Abraham Lincoln, "if you are as happy on entering the White House as I on leaving, you are a very happy man indeed."

* Ill with rheumatic gout and pneumonia, Buchanan died at his home, known as Wheatland, in 1868. He had previously stated that, upon his death, a letter that explained the cause of his broken engagement with Ann Chapman would be revealed. Instead, shortly before he passed, Buchanan ordered that the document be burned, unread. His wish was carried out.

First Lady: Harriet Rebecca Lane Johnston

  - Spouse: None

Political Party: Democratic Party

Vice President: John Cabell Breckinridge

Last Words: "Oh Lord, God Almighty, as Thou wilt."

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