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Franklin Pierce: Famous Last Words

Posted in Famous Last Words on Thursday, 28 April 2011

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Franklin Pierce, who became the 14th President of the United States, was born in New Hampshire and educated locally in Hillsborough and at Francestown Academy before attending Phillips Exeter Academy and Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. He was a contemporary of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow at the latter.

picture, Franklin Pierce, President, United States of America

Franklin Pierce, 14th President of the United States of America

After graduating, he began practicing law and also began his political career. He was elected to Congress in 1833-37, the youngest US Representative at the time, aged only 27 when first elected. He served in the Mexican-American War and, afterwards, returned to politics. He was a compromise candidate at the Democratic National Convention, standing only to break a deadlock between four major contenders and won.

He then went on to win the 1852 presidential election, serving his term in 1853-57. A divisive President, he made a number of decisions that lost him many supporters, especially his support of expanding slavery. His reputation was subsequently destroyed when he declared support for the Confederacy during the American Civil War.

Pierce died in Concord, New Hampshire, of cirrhosis, his final words not recorded, although his thoughts may be summed up by his favourite hymn, sung at his funeral:

White Thee I seek, Protecting Power / Be my vain wishes stilled, / And may this consecrated hour / With better hope be filled.

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