Franklin Pierce

FRANKLIN PIERCE, president of the United States, is the son of Benjamin Pierce, who rose to the rank of brigade-major in the American army during the revolutionary war, and held several political offices in the state of New Hampshire. Franklin Pierce was born in the western part of that state, in the town of Hillsborough in 1804, and after completing his academical studies, entered Bowdoin college, Maine. Immediately on leaving college he commenced his legal studies with Judge Howe, of Northampton, Mass., but subsequently returned to his native state and, finally finished his studies at Amherst Mass. He was admitted to the bar and commenced the practice of his profession in his native town; but before the end of two years he was elected a representative in the state legislature, and during his second year's service was chosen speaker of the house. In 1833 he was elected to congress, and remained a member of the house of representatives for four years. During this period, General Pierce, although a firm supporter of democratic measures, seldom distinguished himself as a debater, being modest and unassuming in his character, and rather quick to hear and slow to speak. In 1837 he was elected a member of the United States senate, but, after five years' service in that body, resigned his seat, intending to devote himself wholly to his profession. He had been more than ten years in public life and he felt the necessity of giving his attention to his private affairs, which had suffered in his absence. He accordingly settled in Concord, the capital of his native state, and resumed his practice at the bar, with a firm resolution to be withdrawn for the future from public life. He rose to high distinction as an advocate, being considered one of the ablest lawyers in New Hampshire. He firmly adhered to his resolution of accepting no political office he declined to be a candidate for governor of the state, or United States senator, and he also refused the offices of attorney-general and secretary of war, which were tendered him by President Polk. On the breaking out of the Mexican war, however, General Pierce, deeming that his services were required in the cause of his country, enrolled himself as a private soldier in the New England regiment, but President Polk sent him a colonel's commission, and subsequently raised him to the rank of brigadier-general in March, 1847. His command consisted of 2,500 men, with whom he landed at Vera Cruz, June 28, 1847. He distinguished himself in most of the battles which were fought between Vera Cruz and the city of Mexico, and made himself highly popular with the men under his command. On the restoration of peace between the two countries, he resigned his commission, and returned home, where he met with a brilliant reception from his fellow-citizens. He was elected president of the United States in 1852.