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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 ...

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Barton A. Myers

Born Hiram Ulysses Grant in Point Pleasant, Ohio, the future general and eighteenth president of the United States had an unimposing beginning. Grant was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1839, where his congressman had mistakenly reported his name as Ulysses Simpson Grant, his mother's maiden name being Simpson. Four years later Grant graduated twenty-first in a class of thirty-nine and accepted a commission as a brevet second lieutenant. The outbreak of the Mexican-American War in 1846 provided Grant with the opportunity to serve under Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott. In 1854 Grant resigned his commission and returned to civilian life After trying his hand at a series of professions that included farming and real estate he settled into a position as a clerk at his family s store in Galena Illinois Grant remained at the business until the Civil War brought ...

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Thomas Adams Upchurch

Born on the southern Ohio frontier near Cincinnati, Benjamin Harrison came from one of the most respected families in American political history. His great-grandfather signed the Declaration of Independence and served as governor of Virginia, his grandfather was the nation's ninth president, and his father represented Ohio in Congress. After graduating in 1852 from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, Harrison studied law in Cincinnati and then moved to Indianapolis, where he set up a legal practice and made his permanent home. When the Civil War erupted, Harrison received a commission as a lieutenant, quickly progressing to the rank of brigadier general. He campaigned on behalf of Abraham Lincoln in 1864, ran unsuccessfully for governor of Indiana in 1876, and served in the U.S. Senate from 1881 until 1887. In 1888 he accepted the Republican nomination for president.

Although not an abolitionist per se throughout his life ...

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Wesley Borucki

nineteenth president of the United States (1877–1881), who ended Reconstruction. Rutherford Birchard Hayes's father, Rutherford, died two months before his birth in Delaware, Ohio, and his mother, Sophia, raised him on the family farm with the help of her brother Sardis Birchard. Hayes attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, graduating as valedictorian in 1842. He studied law at Harvard and began his practice in Fremont, Ohio, in 1845. Hayes moved in 1849 to Cincinnati, where he joined the Republican Party in the 1850s, attracted by its antislavery principles.

Hayes rose to the rank of major general during the Civil War. His service was so distinguished that he won election to Congress in 1864 without campaigning. He was elected governor of Ohio an unprecedented three times from 1867 to 1875 and received the Republican presidential nomination in 1876.

The Democratic governor Samuel Tilden ...

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For information on

African Americans close to Lincoln: See Keckley.

African American influences on Lincoln: See Civil War, American; Douglass; Dred Scott v. Sandford; Garnet; Race and the American Presidency; Slavery and Law in North America; Truth;

Lincoln s attitudes toward blacks ...

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Paul Finkelman and Vickey Kalambakal

Abraham Lincoln, self-made and self-educated, remains one of America's best-loved presidents. He rose from obscurity and poverty through his own efforts to become president. His election in 1860 as the first president dedicated to ending the spread of slavery to new states led to the secession of seven slave states. His refusal to allow the Union to fall apart led to civil war and to the secession of four more states. During the war Lincoln presided over a revolution in American race relations that ended slavery; allowed for black political and military participation in the affairs of the nation; and, after his assassination, resulted in blacks' gaining full rights as American citizens.

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Steven J. Niven

author, U.S. senator, and first African American president. Born Barack Hussein Obama in Honolulu, Hawaii, he was the only son of Barack Obama Sr., a native of Kenya, and Ann Dunham, a white Kansan, who met and married while they were both students at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Obama Sr. grew up herding goats with his father, who was a domestic servant for British colonial officials in the small Kenyan village of Nyangoma-Kogelo. Obama Sr. arrived in Hawaii in 1959 as part of a program initiated by the Kenyan nationalist politician Tom Mboya to educate promising young African students in the United States. Mboya's program aimed to prepare an African-born elite for government service after the end of British colonial rule, and he secured scholarship funds from a number of African Americans active in the civil rights movement, including Jackie Robinson, Harry Belafonte, and Sidney Poitier ...