Franklin Pierce (November 23 , 1804 - October 8 , 1869) was the 14th (1853 - 1857) President of the United States .
After his service in the Senate, Pierce resumed the practice of law in Concord. He was district attorney for New Hampshire, and declined the appointment as Attorney General of the United States tendered by President James Polk . He served in the Mexican War as a colonel and brigadier general. He was a member of the New Hampshire State constitutional convention in 1850 and served as its president.
Pierce was elected President of the United States on the Democratic ticket and served from March 4 , 1853 , to March 3 , 1857 .
Two months before he took office, he and his wife saw their eleven-year-old son killed when their train was wrecked. Grief-stricken, Pierce entered the Presidency nervously exhausted.
In his Inaugural he proclaimed an era of peace and prosperity at home, and vigor in relations with other nations. The United States might have to acquire additional possessions for the sake of its own security, he pointed out, and would not be deterred by "any timid forebodings of evil."
Pierce had only to make gestures toward expansion to excite the wrath of northerners, who accused him of acting as a cat's-paw of Southerners eager to extend slavery into other areas. Therefore he aroused apprehension when he pressured Great Britain to relinquish its special interests along part of the Central American coast, and even more when he tried to persuade Spain to sell Cuba.
But the most violent renewal of the storm stemmed from the Kansas-Nebraska Act , which repealed the Missouri Compromise and reopened the question of slavery in the West. This measure, the handiwork of Senator Stephen A. Douglas , grew in part out of his desire to promote a railroad from Chicago to California through Nebraska. Already Secretary of War Jefferson Davis , advocate of a southern transcontinental route, had persuaded Pierce to send James Gadsden to Mexico to buy land for a southern railroad. He purchased the area now comprising southern Arizona and part of southern New Mexico for $10,000,000 commonly known as the Gadsen Purchase .
Douglas's proposal, to organize western territories through which a railroad might run, caused extreme trouble. Douglas provided in his bills that the residents of the new territories could decide the slavery question for themselves. The result was a rush into Kansas, as southerners and northerners vied for control of the territory. Shooting broke out, and " bleeding Kansas " became a prelude to the Civil War.
After losing the Democratic nomination, he reportedly quipped "there's nothing left to do but get drunk", which he apparently did frequently, once running down a pedestrian while drunk-driving a carriage. Franklin Pierce died in Concord on October 8 , 1869 , from cirrhosis of the liver, and was interred in Minat Inclosure in the Old North Cemetery.