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Diane L. Barnes

Hailing from Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, James Buchanan was the son of the storekeeper James Buchanan and Elizabeth Speer. Following a local school education, Buchanan read law and was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1812. Buchanan never married, instead concentrating his energies on his political career. He began in the Pennsylvania state legislature, serving a single term from 1814 to 1816, and was later elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served five terms starting in 1821. Buchanan began his political career as a moderate Federalist, but by the early 1830s he was an ardent supporter of the seventh president, Andrew Jackson, and the newly forming Democratic Party. Jackson rewarded his loyalty by appointing him as minister to Russia in 1832. Upon his return to the United States in 1833 Buchanan was appointed by the Pennsylvania legislature to fill the U S Senate seat ...


Rolando Avila

James Knox Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. His father, Samuel Polk, was a prosperous farmer who owned thousands of acres of land and about fifty slaves in Tennessee. His mother, Jane Knox Polk, was a devout Presbyterian who instilled Calvinist virtues of hard work and self-discipline in her son. The eldest of ten children, Polk was a sickly child. At the age of seventeen he underwent a very dangerous and painful operation in order to have stones removed from his gallbladder.

After graduating with honors from the University of North Carolina in 1818, Polk studied law, passed the bar exam, and began his political career. He would serve as a member of the Tennessee House of Representative (1823–1825), a member of the U. S. House of Representatives (1825–1839), the Speaker of the House (1835–1839 and the governor of Tennessee ...


Michael C. Miller

John Tyler was born in Charles City County, Virginia, to John Tyler, a lawyer and politician, and Mary Armistead, who died when Tyler was seven. After graduating from William and Mary College in 1807, he studied law under his father, during which time he cemented his beliefs in states' rights and a strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. In 1811 Tyler began his political career as a delegate to the Virginia House of Delegates. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1816, running on a states' rights platform, but resigned his seat a few years later. He returned to the Virginia House in 1822, became governor in 1825, and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1827. He resigned his Senate seat in 1836.

In 1840 Tyler was elected vice president on the Whig Party ticket. When President William Henry ...