Franklin Pierce was a Northerner with strong ties to the South. At a time when the country was so divided you could feel it, there couldn’t have been a more perfect candidate for president in 1852. Well, almost perfect anyway. The Democrats went through 49 ballots before they settled on him as their nominee. Yet by the time his first term was over, the country scorned him and his own party rejected him.
What went wrong? For starters, to understand what he was dealing with as president, you have to understand the utterly heartbreaking and tragic moment that changed his life forever. And therefore, also his presidency.
What happened was so utterly devastating that just weeks later, when Pierce took the oath of office, he refused to swear on the Bible because he thought God was punishing him for his political campaigning.
Franklin Pierce is our president of the week. Keep reading and you’ll discover that while his presidency may have been a disaster, it’s hard to blame him for it.