The James Buchanan Collection, 1816-present, contains material that pertains to the life and legacy of James Buchanan and his Lancaster home, Wheatland. The collection includes correspondence of James Buchanan and letters written by his niece, Harriet Lane Johnston. Newspaper articles discuss Buchanan's life and Wheatland, tell the story of Buchanan's romance with Ann Coleman, and report on commemorative events. Legal and personal business are represented by deeds, financial matters, and Buchanan's probate records.
Political papers include the Presidential appointment of Buchanan as Minister to Russia, certification to represent Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate, and a series of letters regarding the Atlantic slave trade in 1819 and Liberia in 1858. In letters, Buchanan outlined his reasons for not wanting to run for Governor, wrote about the confidence bestowed on him by the Democratic Party, and established a fund for the city of Lancaster to purchase wood and coal for poor women during the winter. After the Crimean War, Buchanan wrote to the ambassador to the United Kingdom and observed that Russia seemed to be intent on recovering its military prestige and had made vast naval preparations.
There is an assortment of ephemera, such as programs for memorial celebrations, material related to John Updike's play Buchanan Dying, commemorative stamps, sheet music, and invitations. Souvenir pamphlets from Wheatland provide history about Buchanan's home and the museum. Speeches range from those given by Buchanan to several that honor his life and Presidency. A scrapbook describes the establishment of Wheatland as a museum and contains newspaper articles about archaeology on the site in 1948.
James Buchanan was born on April 23, 1791 to James Buchanan and Elizabeth Speer. He was the second child born out of ten children, and he would go on to outlive all but one of his siblings. Most popularly remembered as Pennsylvania's only President and as a lifelong bachelor, Buchanan committed a lifetime to politics. In 1821, he left his law practice and embarked on his political career after having been voted into the U.S. House of Representatives. He would remain in the House for five consecutive terms before serving as the U.S. Minister to Russia, a Senator in the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Secretary of State, the U.S. Minister to Great Britain, and finally, the 15th President of the United States. He died in his bedchamber at Wheatland at 8:30 AM on June 1, 1868. He was 77 years old.
Digitization of the James Buchanan Collection was funded by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, PHMC Appl ID # 201808013051, 2019-2020.
James Buchanan and Wheatland Scrapbook, February 1936-May
1948 was cataloged as part of a project funded by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, ME60112, 2007-2008.
James Buchanan Papers, Dickinson College Archives & Special Collections http://archives.dickinson.edu/collection-descriptions/james-buchanan-papers
James Buchanan and Harriet Lane Johnston Papers, Library of Congress https://www.loc.gov/collections/james-buchanan-and-harriet-lane-johnston-papers/
James Buchanan Papers, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, http://www2.hsp.org/collections/manuscripts/b/Buchanan0091.html
James Buchanan Papers, Penn State University Libraries, https://libraries.psu.edu/findingaids/1458.htm
Related Item Notes
James Buchanan Family Papers (JBFP)
Historical Society of Pennsylvania microfilm in the LancasterHistory Research Library
LancasterHistory Library collection
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