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James Buchanan papers


Held at: Historical Society of Pennsylvania [Contact Us]1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19107

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

James Buchanan was born April 23, 1791 at Stony Batter, near Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. His father had migrated from northern Ireland in 1783, and became a successful frontier storekeeper. James was one of eleven children. After graduating from Dickinson College in 1809, he moved to Lancaster, then the capital of Pennsylvania, where he studied law and entered into practice in 1813. As a Federalist, Buchanan served as state assemblyman from Lancaster for two terms, 1814-1815, and a few years later successfully defended Federalist Judge Walter Franklin against impeachment before the state Senate.

After the unexpected death of his fiancee Ann Coleman in 1819, Buchanan left Lancaster and law for a political career in Washington, D.C. He was elected to five terms as congressman, 1821-1831, running first as a Federalist but after 1824 proclaiming himself an adherent to the new Jacksonian party. President Andrew Jackson appointed Buchanan as minister to Russia, 1832-1833, a post which kept him in the Jacksonian ranks but banished him temporarily from domestic politics. Buchanan was elected U.S. senator in 1834 to fill William Wilkins's unfinished term, then re-elected in 1836 and 1842. He became chairman of the committee on abolition petitions, chairman of the committee on foreign relations, and aided materially in drafting the Independent Treasury Bill.

Under James K. Polk, Buchanan served as secretary of state from 1845-1849. As secretary of state, Buchanan achieved a peaceful settlement of the Oregon dispute with Great Britain and oversaw U.S. foreign affairs in the lead up to and during the Mexican War.

Buchanan retired from politics in 1849, and returned to his Wheatland estate in Lancaster, Pennsylvania during the Taylor-Fillmore administration. In 1853, President Franklin Pierce offered Buchanan the ministry to Great Britain. At Pierce's instructions, Buchanan and American ministers in Madrid and Paris drafted the Ostend Manifesto in 1854, laying out a rationale for taking Cuba from Spain. The public bitterly criticized the manifesto, which helped cost Pierce a second term as president.

Upon his return from Great Britain in 1856, Buchanan was named Democratic nominee for president and was elected in November. President Buchanan faced a nation already deeply split between North and South over many fundamental issues, including not only slavery but also the protective tariff, free western land, and the distribution of federal funds. Buchanan sought to emphasize his position as a non-sectional leader who would be bound by a traditional view of the Constitution, and he divided his Cabinet evenly between North and South.

Just two days after Buchanan's inauguration, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Dred Scott case that African Americans were not citizens of the United States. Buchanan also faced the Panic of 1857 and the Kansas crisis during his first year as president. On the dangerous problem of the admission of Kansas, Buchanan achieved a compromise solution that later brought Kansas into the Union as a free state, but in the course of the uproar, Senator Stephen A. Douglas bolted from the administration and the Democrats did not recover from the split. Sectional conflict continued to build, fueled by the abolitionist press, the split between Buchanan and Douglas Democrats, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, John Brown's raid at Harpers Ferry, and the Covode investigation of alleged presidential corruption.

The Democrats were split and nominated a northern and a southern candidate for president in 1860. Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln won the election in November with no southern electoral votes, and South Carolina seceded on Dec. 20, 1860. During Buchanan's last months in office, he sought to isolate South Carolina and consolidate pro-Union sentiment in all the states, later also working to hold the key federal forts, increase the armed forces (which Congress rejected), and avoid any overt act that might detonate war. Lincoln continued Buchanan's policies, including the recommendation of a constitutional convention, until the Confederates attacked Fort Sumter on April 12-13, 1861. After that, Buchanan promptly backed Lincoln's position that no alternative now existed except war.

Buchanan retired to his estate, Wheatland, in 1861 and remained there until his death. Buchanan never married. However, he became guardian or played the role of parent for many orphaned nephews and nieces, particularly the Lane children. Harriet Lane became his favorite and mistress of the White House during his presidency. Buchanan died June 1, 1868, and was interred in Woodward Hill Cemetery in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

This collection spans the entirety of Buchanan's legal, political, and diplomatic career, including his service as Pennsylvania assemblyman, U.S. congressman, minister to Russia, U.S. senator, secretary of state, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Great Britain, and president of the United States. The bulk of the collection is correspondence, but the collection also contains speeches, notes, manuscript drafts, business papers, legal papers, pamphlets, books, newspaper clippings, broadsides and scrapbooks.

The correspondence in Series I consists primarily of incoming correspondence, with a smaller amount of outgoing and third-party correspondence and indices for each. Series II consists of Buchanan's speeches, memoranda, and notes. Series III contains drafts and manuscripts of Buchanan's autobiography and others' biographies. Series IV consists of a wide variety of printed material, including pamphlets, newspaper clippings, broadsides, and books. Series V contains Buchanan's assorted personal business papers, including deeds, contracts, promissory notes, receipts, checks, accounts, and letters pertaining exclusively to business matters. Series VI contains legal papers, 1811-1832, from Buchanan's legal practice. Series VII is a highly miscellaneous group, including a survey of Buchanan-related materials in the Library of Congress.

Most series are arranged chronologically, though Series II (Speeches, memoranda, notes) is arranged topically. Volumes are arranged by size. This collection was microfilmed in 1974 based on an earlier series arrangement, and most folders are marked with microfilm reel numbers that correspond to the published microfilm guide. A small amount of unmicrofilmed material can be found at the end of Series I (Correspondence) and in Series IV (Printed material).

This collection is arranged into seven series:

Series I. Correspondence, 1783-1895, 22.3 linear feet

Series II. Speeches, memoranda, notes, 1816-1862, 1.7 linear feet

Series III. Drafts and manuscripts, approximately 1866-1883, 0.8 linear feet

Series IV. Printed material, 1814-1892, 6.5 linear feet

Series V. Business papers, 1828-1867, 0.6 linear feet

Series VI. Legal papers, 1811-1832, 0.6 linear feet

Series VII. Miscellaneous, 1819-1877, undated, 2.5 linear feet

Baker, Jean H. James Buchanan. New York: Times Books, 2004. “Buchanan, James, (1791-1868).” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. (accessed April 1, 2010). West, Lucy Fisher, ed. Guide to the Microfilm Edition of the James Buchanan Papers at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1974.

Gift of the Buchanan family; transferred to the Historical Society, circa 1895-1897.

This collection is available on microfilm (call number XR 506:1-60). The published microfilm guide is listed in the bibliography.

This collection was microfilmed in 1974 based on an earlier series arrangement. In 2010, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania revisited the intellectual arrangment of the collection. We primarily left the physical arrangement as is to protect the accuracy of the microfilm guide, but occasional correspondence and miscellaneous papers have been moved to correct chronological filing errors.


Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Dana Dorman
Finding Aid Date
The Digital Center for Americana pilot project was funded by the Barra Foundation and several individual donors.
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Collection Inventory

Scope and Contents note

Making up the bulk of the collection, this series contains Buchanan's incoming correspondence, outgoing correspondence, as well as a small amount of third-party correspondence. A few letters of purely business interest are filed in Series V with other business papers. Incoming, outgoing, and third-party correspondence are each indexed, with dates of letters and microfilm reels on which they may be found. These indexes are filed at the end of each corresponding section within the series. For more in-depth description of the content of Buchanan’s correspondence, see the "Reel Notes" in the published microfilm guide.

Incoming correspondence is arranged chronologically, 1815-1868, and varies in content and volume. An index to incoming correspondence can be found in Box 44. Note that Buchanan occasionally drafted responses on blank portions of his incoming correspondence. Early incoming correspondence is sparse, consisting of letters relating to Buchanan’s legal practice, business interests, personal life, Pennsylvania politics, and his service as a U.S. representative (1821-1831). The bulk of the material from the 1820s consists of constituent mail seeking appointments and favors, regarding Post Office service and locations, and reflecting opinions on the tariff, the National Road and other topics of current interest.

Incoming correspondence in 1831 and 1832 concerns Buchanan’s appointment as minister to Russia, but the collection includes relatively little from his time in Russia. Among the incoming correspondence during his service as minister (1832-1833) are signed copies of Secretary of State Edward Livingston’s dispatches, correspondence from other Americans living in Europe, a few formal invitations, and letters from neighbors and friends at home.

After Buchanan’s return to the U.S., his incoming correspondence focuses on his service in the U.S. Senate (1834-1845). Both political and personal correspondence includes opinions on the Bank of the United States, the Anti-Masonic Movement, the economic dislocations following the Panic of 1837, the Democratic Party organization in Pennsylvania, the Subtreasury Bill, the election of 1840, slavery and abolition, and other domestic issues. Complaints from the unemployed, notably Philadelphia dock workers, and numerous requests for appointments and applications for private pension bills are also included. A sizeable amount of correspondence relates to the organization of the Pennsylvania Legislature in 1842. Friends and allies expressed support for Buchanan as a candidate for the presidency in 1844, and in the spring of 1844, scattered letters address Martin Van Buren’s candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination and the eventual nominee, James K. Polk.

On Feb. 17, 1845, President-elect Polk wrote to Buchanan offering him the post of secretary of state. After Buchanan’s acceptance, and subsequent congratulatory letters, his incoming correspondence chiefly concerns foreign policy matters and other topics relating to the operation of the Department of State. Dominant topics include the crisis and eventual war with Mexico, brought about by the annexation of Texas, and the crisis with Great Britain regarding the Oregon Territory. Incoming correspondents expressed opinions regarding the Manifest Destiny doctrine, American expansionist sentiment, and the Wilmot Proviso, which sought to ban slavery in any territories claimed during the Mexican War. Buchanan also received many letters responding to his so-called “Berks Letter,” in which he proposed extending the Missouri Compromise line for new territories. Numerous individuals wrote to him in 1847 and 1848 offering loyalty and support for Buchanan as a potential presidential candidate, and Pennsylvania political figures reported their activities on his behalf in Philadelphia and around the state. Buchanan received numerous accounts of the Pennsylvania Democratic Convention held in Harrisburg on March 5, 1848, and New Yorkers and others wrote of their concern over the deep divisions within that state’s Democratic Party. Friends sent a flood of reports from the National Democratic Convention, which convened in Baltimore on May 21, 1848, but after Buchanan failed to win the nomination, incoming correspondence dropped off. A few very interesting letters from Americans in Paris describe the March 1848 Revolution there.

Buchanan’s term as secretary of state ended in March 1849, and after his retirement to Wheatland, his incoming mail chiefly concerned old friends, private business matters, and requests for loans and favors from acquaintances and strangers. Beginning in March 1850, a sizeable number of letters discuss the Compromise of 1850 and other aspects of the slavery issue, as well as concerns over the future of the Union. In 1851 and 1852, Buchanan's incoming correspondence is largely political and centered on his possible presidential candidacy in 1852, with significant letters responding to a major political address Buchanan made in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, in which he held that the Compromise of 1850 was of paramount importance to the preservation of the Union. President-elect Franklin Pierce wrote to Buchanan in December 1852 asking his advice on the make-up of Pierce’s cabinet, and asserting that he would not appoint anyone (like Buchanan) who had previously held a cabinet post. At the end of March 1853, President Pierce wrote to Buchanan asking whether he would accept an appointment as minister to England.

Incoming correspondence while Buchanan served as minister to England includes routine mission business, letters of introduction, and the variety of minor problems he faced as minister. There are scattered unofficial letters from Secretary of State William L. Marcy, including lengthy letters in 1854 reporting on negotiations with the British government on customs reciprocity and fisheries. A number of brief notes from the British Foreign Office concern the minister’s dress at official British functions, a matter in which Marcy’s policy conflicted with British protocol. Incoming correspondence from home includes highly interesting reports on the rise of the Know-Nothing Party and the debate on the Nebraska Bill.

In the fall of 1855, Buchanan asked to be relieved of his assignment, and much of his incoming correspondence for the next few months relates to the U.S. political scene, his plans for coming home, and eventually his presidential candidacy. Throughout his presidential campaign, friends and strangers wrote offering political advice, expressing opinions on current issues like Kansas statehood and squatter sovereignty, requesting campaign funds or loans, and reporting on Democratic Party affairs. Buchanan was elected president in November 1856, and incoming correspondence turned to congratulations, requests for or advice on appointments for cabinet and other positions, reports on the composition and attitudes of the press in Washington and elsewhere, opinions on the slavery controversy and Kansas statehood, and updates on the upcoming Pennsylvania senatorial election. Buchanan also received a few letters from Supreme Court justices regarding the Dred Scott case.

Buchanan’s incoming correspondence while president (1857-1861) is varied and generally substantive, reflecting his responsibilities for overseeing domestic and foreign affairs and for leading the Democratic Party. Robert J. Walker and other observers sent the president informative reports from Kansas, while officials and private citizens reported on and analyzed developments in the territory, including the Lecompton Constitution, other aspects of the Kansas statehood question and slavery. Other significant topics of interest during Buchanan’s presidency include the possible purchase or annexation of Cuba and/or Mexico; Democratic Party affairs, particularly in Philadelphia and New York; assorted patronage appointments; Stephen A. Douglas’s re-election to the Senate; the Mormons; and the 1860 presidential election and the hardening of sectional attitudes. Buchanan received eight telegrams regarding John Brown’s attack on the arsenal at Harpers Ferry. There are also routine letters on such housekeeping matters as the president’s domestic staff and his wine cellar.

After the election of Abraham Lincoln in November 1860, Buchanan’s correspondents reported rumors of all sorts and offered opinions and advice on how to reassure the South. During January and February 1861, as the crisis deepened, Buchanan’s incoming correspondence included an outpouring of letters from private citizens hoping that peace could be preserved. The president received letters from Southern governors announcing state policy and forwarding resolutions of secession, letters describing cabinet resignations and reorganizations, and letters from Northern state legislatures with resolutions protesting secession and offering support to the Union government.

Buchanan returned to Wheatland after the end of his presidency on March 4, 1861. Political subjects dropped almost entirely from his incoming correspondence, except for some letters from ex-cabinet members Jeremiah Black and Edwin Stanton, who attempted for a time to keep him apprised of events in the new administration. Buchanan received a letter dated April 15, 1865 announcing the assassination of President Lincoln; only one other correspondent mentioned the tragedy. Most of his mail concerned mundane personal matters, requests for assistance, or reports on the activities and families of old friends. A sizeable volume of letters regards Buchanan’s history of his administration, Mr. Buchanan’s Administration on the Eve of Rebellion, which was published in book form in 1866.

A small amount of incoming correspondence is filed out of chronological order at the end of this group; it was separated from the collection at the time microfilming began, but was restored before the end of that project.

Outgoing correspondence is also arranged chronologically, 1811-1868, and contains drafts, letters, and copies in both Buchanan's and others' handwriting. The drafts and most of the copies apparently were retained by Buchanan for his own records and are items to which he attached particular importance. Many appear to have been saved because of the eminence of the addressee or the strength of Buchanan's personal or political attachment. Other drafts were preserved because they concerned very important or controversial subjects or Buchanan's personal business activities. Some letters were returned to Buchanan during his lifetime, while others were collected by his biographers and would-be biographers or purchased by or given to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. In some cases, Buchanan's letter or draft is accompanied by a copy. An index of outgoing correspondence can be found in Box 53. This series also includes copies of Buchanan's letters from other Historical Society of Pennsylvania collections.

Surviving outgoing correspondence from the early part of Buchanan’s life is exceedingly sparse. Beginning in 1825 there are a number of letters to Andrew Jackson, whom Buchanan admired and supported. Buchanan also saved drafts of letters to Jackson, Duff Green, Samuel Ingham, and others regarding an allegation that Buchanan had been the conduit of an offer from Henry Clay’s friends to Jackson of a “corrupt bargain” prior to the 1824 election.

Buchanan's outgoing correspondence during his service as minister to Russia (1832-1833) includes drafts and/or copies of dispatches to the secretary of state and his messages to Russian officials, and offers detailed reports on his official negotiations, his meetings with the emperor, his life in St. Petersburg, and the problems of the mission. Following Buchanan’s return to the U.S., his outgoing correspondence is light and chiefly political in subject matter, commenting on the Bank of the United States, abolitionist activities, and his own political plans.

Buchanan accepted the office of secretary of state in 1845, and his subsequent outgoing correspondence includes instructions and messages to American diplomats and to private individuals who had business with the State Department. Buchanan’s outgoing diplomatic correspondence includes important commentary on the Mexican War and the controversy with England over Oregon, though an increasing number of Buchanan’s letters regarded national and Pennsylvania state politics.

Following his term as secretary of state, Buchanan wrote to friends in Pennsylvania and elsewhere about politics and other current matters, including the tariff, Cuba, Central American affairs, slavery, the Wilmot Proviso, the Compromise of 1850, and his interest in obtaining the 1852 presidential nomination. In December 1852 and early 1853 Buchanan addressed several letters to president-elect Franklin Pierce, giving suggestions for creating a cabinet, conducting his administration, and recommending candidates for federal patronage appointments. Buchanan’s outgoing correspondence while he served as minister to England (1853-1856) offers insight into Buchanan’s diplomatic style and the importance of the London Mission.

Outgoing correspondence is lighter after Buchanan’s return to the U.S. in 1856. In Buchanan’s draft letter of June 16, 1856, he accepted the presidential nomination of the Democratic National Convention, and in subsequent outgoing correspondence he articulated Democratic Party policy, directed campaign activities, and warned of the danger of sectional parties. His outgoing correspondence while serving as president illustrates his continuing interest in the future of Cuba and his efforts to obtain information about the activities of filibusterer William Walker, and includes copies of his private correspondence with Lord Clarendon of Great Britain.

Letters and drafts from President Buchanan’s final fourteen months in office offer very limited information on his reaction to the constitutional crises that confronted him. After leaving office, he continued to write of his faith in the strength of the Union, his conviction of the justice of its cause, and his confidence in its victory, as well as expressing concern for the welfare of the Democratic Party and his hopes for its future. Much of his correspondence from his retirement years consists of purely personal letters to relatives, former colleagues, and friends.

A small amount of third-party correspondence contains letters addressed to members of Buchanan's household or his staff; other letters were probably delivered to him, either by the author or the recipient, in order to communicate information, an opinion, or a recommendation. Among the topics discussed in this correspondence are politics and political activity, Kansas, Cuba, patronage distribution, and the secession crisis. About one-third of this correspondence dates from after Buchanan's death, deriving mainly from efforts to engage a biographer, to collect information or impressions about Buchanan, or to defend and enhance his reputation. The provenance of some of the items is not evident. An index to third-party correspondence can be found in Box 57.

This series also contains two bound volumes of Buchanan's diplomatic correspondence (or extracts of correspondence) from his service as minister to England.

Physical Description

22.3 Linear feet ; 55 boxes, 2 volumes

Incoming correspondence, (1815-March 2, 1839).
Box 5 Box 6 Box 2 Box 3 Box 1 Box 4
Incoming correspondence, (March 10, 1839-July 31, 1845).
Box 8 Box 9 Box 10 Box 11 Box 12 Box 7
Incoming correspondence, (Aug. 1, 1845-Sept. 30, 1848).
Box 14 Box 15 Box 16 Box 17 Box 13 Box 18
Incoming correspondence, (Oct. 3, 1848-April 12, 1854).
Box 21 Box 20 Box 22 Box 23 Box 24 Box 19
Incoming correspondence, (April 18, 1854-Sept. 30, 1856).
Box 26 Box 28 Box 27 Box 30 Box 29 Box 25
Incoming correspondence, (Oct. 1, 1856-May 31, 1859).
Box 37 Box 31 Box 32 Box 34 Box 33 Box 36 Box 35
Incoming correspondence, (June 2, 1859-Dec. 29, 1866).
Box 39 Box 40 Box 42 Box 41 Box 38 Box 43
Incoming correspondence, index to incoming correspondence, (1834-1868, undated).
Box 44
Outgoing correspondence, (1811-July 1862).
Box 48 Box 49 Box 46 Box 47 Box 50 Box 51 Box 45
Outgoing correspondence; Copies of outgoing correspondence from other HSP collections, (1813-1868, undated).
Box 52
Copies of outgoing correspondence from other HSP collections; Index to outgoing correspondence, (Feb. 1839-1866, undated).
Box 53 Folder 1-16
Third-party correspondence, (June 1787-1861).
Box 56
Third-party correspondence; Index to third-party correspondence; Extracts from Buchanan's despatches to Washington: The Fishery Question, (1862-1885, undated).
Box 57 Folder 1-14
Miscellaneous unmicrofilmed envelopes, correspondence and copies of correspondence, (1783-1895, undated).
Box 66 Folder 1-11
Oversized correspondence removed from Box 26, Folder 4, (undated).
Box 74 Folder 8
Miscellaneous notes, Mr. Buchanan’s mission to Great Britain, (1853-1855).
Volume 20
Miscellaneous despatches, U.S. Legation, London, (1855-1856).
Volume 21

Scope and Contents note

This series is highly diverse and fragmentary, and has been arranged topically. Many of the items are non-continuous both in pagination and in content. Subjects include U.S. relations with Great Britain, Latin America, and other nations; Kansas; Utah; the secession crisis of 1860-1861; the Post Office Blanks controversy (involving government printing contracts); and DeGroot's Claim (a claim by a contractor against the government).

Much of the material is in Buchanan's handwriting, with occasional exceptions such as a reporter's notes of Buchanan's speeches. Notes regarding the Post Office Blanks controversy and DeGroot's Claim are mostly in the handwriting of others, with Buchanan's corrections and additions.

This series includes copies of Buchanan's speeches etc. from the Cadwalader papers at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. This series also includes five bound volumes, including scrapbooks of newsclippings and notes and memoranda relating to the Clayton Bulwer Treaty.

Physical Description

1.7 Linear feet ; 2.5 boxes, 5 volumes

Impeachment of Judge Walter Franklin, (1816-1817).
Box 53 Folder 17
Miscellaneous speeches on political matters, (undated).
Box 53 Folder 18-22
Notes etc. on Treasury matters, (undated).
Box 54 Folder 1-3
Notes etc. re: Great Britain, (undated).
Box 54 Folder 4-6
Notes etc. re: Latin America, (undated).
Box 54 Folder 7-8
Notes etc. re: foreign relations, (undated).
Box 54 Folder 9
Notes etc. re: Kansas, (undated).
Box 54 Folder 10-11
Notes etc. re: Utah, (undated).
Box 54 Folder 12
Notes etc. re: secession, (undated).
Box 54 Folder 13-14
Notes etc. re: post office blanks, (undated).
Box 55 Folder 1-2
Notes etc. re: DeGroot’s claim, (undated).
Box 55 Folder 3-4
Miscellaneous presidential notes etc., (undated).
Box 55 Folder 5-9
Miscellaneous non-presidential speeches etc., (undated).
Box 55 Folder 10-11
Copies of Buchanan’s speeches etc. from the Cadwalader Papers, (undated).
Box 55 Folder 12-17
Scrapbook of news clippings re: secession, (1860-1861).
Volume 2
Scrapbook of news clippings re: controversy with General Scott, (1861-1862).
Volume 3
Notes and memoranda relating to Clayton Bulwer Treaty etc., (1854).
Volume 17
Scrapbook of news clippings re: speeches in Congress, (1822-1838).
Volume 18
Scrapbook of news clippings re: speeches and letters, (1838-1862).
Volume 19

Scope and Contents note

This series contains holograph drafts of James Buchanan's history of his administration, his fragmentary autobiography, and articles and sketches which may or may not have been intended for publication.

In addition, there are rough drafts and fragments added by Buchanan's biographers. William B. Reed began research for a biography of Buchanan during his subject's lifetime, and was the designated biographer under Buchanan's will. Reed never completed his task, but the draft chapters he finished are present. George Ticknor Curtis published a two-volume biography of Buchanan in 1883; a rough draft of his outline and parts of his manuscript are present. Note that Curtis's biography, both in draft and in published form, includes copies of Buchanan correspondence that is no longer extant.

Physical Description

0.8 Linear feet ; 2 boxes

Buchanan's administration, (circa 1866).
Box 59 Folder 1-9
Autobiography, (undated).
Box 59 Folder 10
Miscellaneous drafts, (undated).
Box 60 Folder 1-2
William B. Reed's biographical draft, (circa 1868).
Box 60 Folder 3-4
George T. Curtis's biographical draft, (circa 1883).
Box 60 Folder 5-6
Copy of Shunk memorandum, (undated).
Box 60 Folder 7
Excerpt of biography, 1792-1820, by William B. Reed, (circa 1868).
Box 60 Folder 8

Scope and Contents note

This series contains a variety of printed material, including books, pamphlets, broadsides, newspapers, loose clippings, and miscellaneous printed material. An index to the loose newspaper clippings, as well as a list of newspapers for which whole sheets are present, can be found in Box 61. Printed pamphlets include copies of Buchanan's speeches and remarks, other politicians' speeches and commentary, congressional reports, and campaign materials. Note that most of the pamphlets were rehoused and therefore do not have microfilm reel numbers marked on the folders; these were filmed on Reel 58.

This series also includes fourteen bound volumes, including Buchanan's own book, Mr. Buchanan's Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion.

Inventory of Pamphlets in Boxes 67-72

Box 67 Pamphlets

Folder 1. "Copy of the Court of Common Pleas, of Lancaster County, in the case of Robert W. Houston, against General John Dicks and others," 1817

Folder 2. "The proceedings of Lodge No. 43, Lancaster, and of the R. W. Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, relative to the differences between them, which occasioned the dissolution of Lodge No. 43," 1822

Folder 3. "An address of Henry Clay, to the public; containing certain testimony in refutation of the charges against him, made by Gen. Andrew Jackson, touching the last presidential election," 1827

Folder 4. "The proceedings of a meeting held at Portland, Maine. August 15, 1835, by the friends of the Union and the Constitution, on the subject of interfering at the north and east with the relations of master and slave at the south," 1835

Folder 5. "Speech of Mr. Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, in support of Mr. Benton’s resolutions, respecting the fortifications and defence of the country," February 1-2, 1836,

Folder 6. "Speech of Mr. Buchanan on the resolution of Col. Benton, to expunge from the journal of the Senate, the resolution of the twenty-eight of March, 1834," January 16, 1837

Folder 7. "Speech of Mr. King, of Georgia, on the bill imposing additional duties, as depositaries, in certain cases, on public officers," September 23, 1837

Folder 8. "Speech of Mr. Buchanan, on the bill imposing additional duties, as depositories in certain cases, on public officers," September 29, 1837

Folder 9. "Remarks of Mr. Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, made on Monday, the 4th February, 1838 on Mr. Chilton’s resolution to retrench the expenditures of the general government," 1838

Folder 10. "Speech of Mr. Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, on the power of the bank of the United States under its Pennsylvania charter . . . Also, his reply to Mr. Clay, of Kentucky, on the same day," April 23, 1838

Folder 11. "Speech of Mr. Preston, of South Carolina, on the annexation of Texas . . .," April 24, 1838

Folder 12. "Report from the Committee on Foreign Relations," July 4, 1838

Folder 13. "Report of the committee appointed to inquire into the conduct of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, in relation to the receipt and delivery of returns of representatives from the county of Philadelphia," December 8, 1838

Folder 14. "Communication from the Secretary of the Commonwealth relative to the returns of the Senatorial election of 1838," December 11, 1838

Folder 15. "Report on the minority of the Committee appointed to inquire into the organization of the two bodies claiming to be the House of Representatives," December 24, 1838

Folder 16. "Annual message of the governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," December 27, 1838

Folder 17. "Slander refuted in two letters from Andrew Jackson . . . Also, Mr. Calhoun’s Resolutions, relative to the Constitutional rights of the South on the abolition question with Mr. Buchanan’s remarks on the same subject," 1838

Box 68 Pamphlets

Folder 1. "Inaugural address of David R. Porter, Governor of Pennsylvania," January 15, 1839

Folder 2. "Remarks of Mr. Ely Moore, of New York, in the House of Representatives," February 4, 1839

Folder 3. "Speech of Mr. Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, in Senate, on the bill to prevent the interference of certain federal officers with elections," February 14, 1839

Folder 4. "From Document No. 229 of the House of Representatives . . . containing allegations of fraud “in relation to the settlement of the claims of the half-breed relatives of the Winnebagoe Indians” . . . ," 1839

Folder 5. "Speech of Mr. Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, in Senate, on the Independent Treasury Bill, in reply to Mr. Clay of Kentucky," January 22, 1840

Folder 6. "Reply of John Davis, of Massachusetts, to Mr. Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, on the reduction of wages and the value of property," January 23, 1840

Folder 7. "Remarks of Mr. Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, in reply to Mr. Davis, of Massachusetts, against the independent treasury bill," March 3, 1840

Folder 8. "Remarks of Messrs. Buchanan, King and Brown, in reply to Messrs. Davis, Preston and Clay, of Kentucky, on the subject of the currency," March 6, 1840

Folder 9. "Speech of Mr. Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, in defence of the administration of Mr. Van Buren against the charge of extravagance in expending the public money," January 22, 1841

Folder 10. "Speech of Hon. James Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, against the bill to incorporate the subscribers to the fiscal bank of the United States," July 7, 1841

Folder 11. "Speech of Mr. Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, on the fiscal corporation; and his reply to Mr. Clay, of Kentucky," September 2, 1841

Folder 12. "Speech of Hon. James Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, against the establishment of the 'exchequer board' proposed by the Secretary of the Treasury," December 29, 1841

Folder 13. "Remarks of Mr. Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, on Mr. Walker’s amendment to the loan bill . . .," April 7, 1842

Folder 14. "Remarks of Mr. Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, on the loan bill," April 8, 1842

Folder 15. "Speech of Hon. James Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, on the bill to provide further remedial justice in the courts of the United States," May, 9, 1842

Folder 16. "Speech of Mr. Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, on the ratification of the treaty with Great Britain," August 19, 1842

Folder 17. "Speech of Mr. Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, on the Oregon question," March 12, 1844

Box 69 Pamphlets

Folder 1. "Resolutions relative to the effect of the annexation of Texas," May 13, 1844

Folder 2. "Speech of Mr. Miller, of New Jersey, on the treaty for annexing Texas to the United States," May 23, 1844

Folder 3. "Speech of Mr. Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, in executive session, in favor of the treaty for the annexation of Texas to the United States," June 8, 1844

Folder 4. "The coalition of 1825: Henry Clay’s Bargain with John Quincy Adams . . . an address to the people of the United States by the Young Men’s Democratic State Central Committee of Ohio," 1844

Folder 5. "A statement [against the confirmation of Henry Horn as Collector of the Port of Philadelphia]," circa 1846

Folder 6. "Message of the President of the United States relating to affairs with the republic of Mexico, August 4, 1846, and the proceedings of the Senate thereon in Executive session," February 2, 1847

Folder 7. "Passengers: A bill intituled; An Act to make further provision, for one year and to the end of the then next session of Parliament, for the carriage of passengers by sea to North America," March 13, 1848

Folder 8. "Message from the President of the United States, communicating the correspondence between the Secretary of State and the Brazilian charge d’affairs at Washington," April 10, 1848

Folder 9. "The proceedings of the Democratic National Convention, held at Baltimore," May 22, 1848

Folder 10. "Diplomatic relations with Rome," 1848

Folder 11. "Communication from the Governor of Pennsylvania, transmitting resolutions relative to slavery, passed by the Legislature of Virginia," January 20, 1849

Folder 12. "Speech of Mr. Douglas, of Illinois, on the territorial question," March 13-14, 1850

Folder 13. "Proceedings of the Great Union Meeting, held in the large saloon of the Chinese Museum, Philadelphia, on the 21st of the November, 1850," 1850

Folder 14. "Excerpt from debate on fiscal corporation," undated

Folder 15. "Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention held at Baltimore, June 1-5, 1852, for the nomination of candidates for president and vice-president of the United States," 1852

Folder 16. "Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention, held at Baltimore," June 1852

Folder 17. "To the representatives of the people of the United States in the Democratic Baltimore Convention, to be held in June 1852," circa 1852

Folder 18. "Papers for the people; to be issued weekly during the campaign, under the patronage of the entire Democratic delegation in Congress," July 3, 1852

Box 70 Pamphlets

Folder 1. "Great speech of the honourable James Buchanan, delivered at the mass meeting of the democracy of western Pennsylvania," October 7, 1852

Folder 2. "An address to the voters of Maryland, in reply to an address of the Scott Corresponding Club of Maryland," circa 1852

Folder 3. "To the Democratic electors of the United States, [manifesto of the friends of Mr. Dallas]," circa 1852

Folder 4. "Memoir of General Scott, from records cotemporaneous with the events," 1852

Folder 5. "Proceedings and speeches at the dinner in celebration of the landing of William Penn, by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, at Philadelphia, on the 8th of [November]," 1852, 1853

Folder 6. "Special message of President Pierce to the Senate of the United States," May 3, 1854

Folder 7. "Hon. James Buchanan: Remarks of Hon. J. Glancy Jones, of Pennsylvania, delivered in the House of Representatives," May 13, 1856

Folder 8. "Kansas investigation: Minority report of the Kansas Investigating Committee, of the House of Representatives, by Hon. M. Oliver, of Missouri," July 11, 1856

Folder 9. "Campaign document: An appeal to the Union-loving citizens of Tennessee!," July 26, 1856

Folder 10. "Old line Whigs for Buchanan and Breckinridge; letters from Hon. James Alfred Pearce, and Hon. Thomas G. Pratt, to the Whigs of Maryland; speeches of Hon. J. W. Crisfield, of Maryland, and Hon. James B. Clay, of Kentucky," July 31, 1856

Folder 11. "James Buchanan, his doctrines and policy as exhibited by himself and friends," August 1856

Folder 12. "Campaign document, No. 1, Buchanan’s record," August 1856

Folder 13. "Republican documents: Gen. Jackson and James Buchanan; letter from Francis P. Blair to the public," August 15, 1856

Folder 14. "Treaty between the United States and Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, relative to Central America, concluded and signed at London on the seventeenth day of October, eighteen hundred and fifty-six," December 17, 1856

Folder 15. "Battle-ground convention: Speech of Hon. James B. Clay," circa 1856

Folder 16. "Short answers to reckless fabrications, against the Democratic candidate for President, James Buchanan," 1856

Folder 17. "Campaign Document No. 8, Mr. Buchanan’s Slavery Record," 1856

Folder 18. "The issue fairly presented: The Senate bill for the admission of Kansas as a state. Democracy, law, order, and the will of the majority of the whole people of the territory, against black republicanism, usurpation, revolution, anarchy, and the will of a meager minority," 1856

Folder 19. [Report from the Secretary of State, with accompanying papers], February 29, 1856

Folder 20. "The fearful issue to be decided in November next! Shall the Constitution and the Union stand or fall? . . .," 1856

Folders 21a-21b. "Plain facts and considerations: addressed to the people of the United States, without distinction of party, in favor of James Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, for president . . .," 1856

Folder 22. "Facts for the people," 1856

Folder 23. "Campaign document No. 4; Mr. Clay-Mr. Jackson-and Mr. Buchanan-the bargain, intrigue and corruption affair of 1825," circa 1856

Box 71 Pamphlets

Folders 1a-1b. "Correspondence between the governments of the United States and Great Britain, in regard to recruiting for the British Army within the United States," 1856

Folder 2. "Recollections of history, applied to the present time," circa 1856

Folder 3. "The institution of slavery; the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Dred Scott; the preservation of the union," [corrected copy], circa 1856-1861

Folder 4. "Inaugural address of the President of the United States," March 4, 1857

Folder 5. "Speech of Hon. Lucius Q. C. Lamar, of Mississippi, on Nicaraguan and Kansas affairs," January 13, 1858

Folder 6. "Speech of Hon. W. S. Groesbeck, of Ohio, on Walker’s expedition to Nicaragua," January 14, 1858

Folder 7. "Message of the President of the United States, transmitting to Congress the constitution of Kansas," February 2, 1858

Folder 8. "Col. McClernand’s letter to the people of Illinois," February 18, 1858

Folder 9. "Report from the Committee on Territories, [regarding Kansas]," February 18, 1858

Folder 10. "The Lecompton Constitution," March 10, 1858

Folder 11. "Message of the President of the United States, communicating, in answer to a resolution of the Senate, reports of the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Navy, with accompanying papers, in relation to the African slave trade," April 23, 1858

Folder 12. "Visitation of American vessels by officers of the British Navy; Message from the President of the United States, in answer to a resolution of the House of Representatives calling for information in reference to reported acts of visitation by officers of the British navy of American vessels in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico," December 16, 1858

Folder 13. "The 'People’s Highway,' or overland route, between the Atlantic and Pacific states . . .," circa 1858

Folder 14. "Message of the President of the United States to the two houses of Congress at the commencement of the second session of the thirty-fifth Congress," 1858

Folder 15. "Report of Hon. C. J. Faulkner, of Virginia, in behalf of the minority of the Select Committee, vindicating the conduct of the President and Secretary of War in the sale of the Fort Snelling Reservation," 1858

Folder 16. "Message of the President," December 19, 1859

Folder 17. "Contract for the purchase of coal; Minority report from the Committee on Naval Affairs," June 1, 1860

Folder 18. "The Covode investigation report," June 16, 1860

Folder 19. "Great national democratic demonstration; The people by thousands ratifying the nominations of Breckinridge and Lane; the Constitution and the Union upheld; grand and enthusiastic rally!; speech of President Buchanan," July 1860

Box 72 Pamphlets

Folder 1. "Breckinridge and Lane campaign documents, No. 4: Speech of President Buchanan, on the evening of Monday, July 9, 1860," 1860

Folder 2. "Speech of the Hon. William B. Reed, on the presidential question, delivered before the National Democratic Association," September 4, 1860

Folder 3. "Message of the President of the United States," December 3, 1860

Folder 4. "Report of the Committee of Thirteen," December 31, 1860

Folder 5. "The rendition of fugitive slaves; the Acts of 1793 and 1850, and the decisions of the Supreme Court sustaining them; the Dred Scott case ‑ what the court decided," 1860

Folder 6. "Correspondence between the commissioners of South Carolina and the President of the United States," January 9, 1861

Folder 7. "Message from the President of the United States transmitting correspondence in relation to Fort Sumter, &c. Feb. 8, 1861," 1861

Folder 8. "Report from the Committee on Military Affairs," February 18, 1861

Folder 9. "The Navy in 1860-61; at the close of Mr. Buchanan’s Administration," November 18, 1861

Folder 10. "Constitution of the Confederate States of America," 1861

Folder 11. "The legal effect of the secession troubles on the commercial relations of the country," circa 1861-1862

Folder 12. "Speech of the Hon. J. D. Bright, of Virginia, on the resolution proposed for his expulsion," February 5, 1862

Folder 13. "The indissoluble nature of the American Union, considered in connection with the assumed right of secession," 1862

Folder 14. "Report from the Committee on the Judiciary, in the case of J. C. G. Kennedy," January 29, 1863

Folder 15. "Bible view of slavery," April 15, 1863

Folder 16. "Speech of Hon. Jeremiah S. Black, at the hall of the Keystone Club, in Philadelphia," October 24, 1864

Folder 17. "Annual report of the board of directors of the Lehigh Valley Rail Road to the stockholders . . .," 1865

Folder 18. "The record of the Democratic Party, 1860-1865," circa 1866

Folder 19. "Letters addressed to Hon. James Buchanan, president of the United States, January 10th and 16th, 1861, on the impending crisis of the country . . .," 1866

Folder 20. "Last will and testament of James Buchanan, deceased," circa June 1868

Folder 21. "To our customers, [statement on fluctuations in gold from 1862-1875]," circa 1875

Folder 22. "The history of democracy: or, political progress, historically illustrated," circa 1876

Folder 23. "Stated Session: Board of Aldermen," November 18, 1879

Folder 24. "Contributions of the Old Residents’ Historical Association, Lowell, Mass.," November 1880

Folder 25. "Reply of J. Holt to certain calumnies of Jacob Thompson," October 8, 1883

Folder 26. "Supreme Court of Pennsylvania; Sunbury and Erie Railroad Company vs. Cooper," undated

Physical Description

6.5 Linear feet ; 10 boxes, 14 volumes

Broadsides; Miscellaneous printed material; Newspaper guide; Newspaper clippings, (1825-1867, undated).
Box 61
Newspaper clippings, (1868-1883).
Box 62 Folder 1-8
Newspaper clippings, (undated).
Box 62 Folder 9
Miscellaneous newspaper clippings, (circa 1840s-1880s).
Box 62 Folder 10-13
Index to common place book, (undated).
Box 62 Folder 14
Review of the Oregon controversy, (1846).
Box 62 Folder 15
"Treaty between her majesty, the emperor of Austria, and the emperor of the French . . .", (1856).
Box 62 Folder 16
"Appareil de sauvetage maritime", (1859).
Box 62 Folder 17
"Valedictory of Mr. Secretary Dix", (1861).
Box 62 Folder 18
Miscellaneous unmicrofilmed printed material, (1841 - 1892).
Box 62 Folder 19
Pamphlets, (1817-1883, undated).
Box 70 Box 71 Box 72 Box 68 Box 69 Box 67
Newspapers, (1838-1861).
Box 73
Newspapers and clippings; miscellaneous printed material, (1855-1883, undated).
Box 74
Life and public services of Hon. James Buchanan, (1856).
Volume 1
Journal of Pennsylvania House of Representatives 1814-15, (1814-1815).
Volume 5
Jubilee of the Constitution, (1848).
Volume 6
"Message from the President of the United States to the two houses of Congress, Dec. 2-3, 1845", (1845).
Volume 7
President’s Messages; Enlistments; Central America., (1854-1856).
Volume 8
Mr. Buchanan’s Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion, (1866).
Volume 9
Mr. Buchanan's Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion, (1866).
Volume 10
Selections from Mr. Buchanan’s Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion, (1866).
Volume 11
"Message of the President of the United States, Dec. 23, 1857", (1857).
Volume 12
Life of John Tyler, President of the United States, (1844).
Volume 13
Report of the Trial of James H. Peck, (1833).
Volume 14
"The treaty between the United States and Mexico", (1838).
Volume 15
"Message of the President of the United States, Jan. 7, 1858", (1858).
Volume 16
"Eastern Papers. Part XIII. Papers relating to the negotiation at Vienna on the eastern question", (1855).
Volume 23

Scope and Contents note

This small series contains Buchanan's personal business records (boxes 63 and 64), including deeds, contracts, promissory notes, receipts, checks, accounts, and letters pertaining exclusively to business matters. These materials concern Buchanan's investments, his real estate transactions, the operations of his farms, and his personal and household expenditures.

The financial accounts of his service as minister to Russia (1832-1833) and to England (1853-1856) are present, as are many records of Elliott E. Lane and James L. Reynolds relating to their activities as Buchanan's agents during his tour in London. There are some accounts of Buchanan's household expenses during his presidency and a single cash book, 1842-1853.

Note that many letters of general interest in Series I allude to Buchanan's business affairs, including letters from the tenants on his farms, certain letters from his brokers, and correspondence with James Buchanan Henry, who acted as his agent in business matters in the 1860s.

Physical Description

0.6 Linear feet ; 1.5 boxes

Miscellaneous business papers, (Oct. 28, 1831-Aug. 23, 1865).
Box 63 Folder 1-6
Lancaster Bank account book, (1842-1853).
Box 63 Folder 7
Checks et al, (April 1, 1828-April 28, 1854).
Box 63 Folder 8-11
Checks et al, (1854-1867, undated).
Box 64 Folder 1-8

Scope and Contents note

This small series contains legal papers deriving from Buchanan's practice of law (boxes 64 and 65). Many fragmentary pieces could not be identified, but an effort was made to group together all items relating to the various cases represented. The legal documents and cases have been filed chronologically, though a sizeable portion is undated. Fragmentary pieces from the undated material may pertain to cases in the chronological section. Only one appealed case has been identified: the original action and the appeal have been filed separately and cross referenced. This series also contains papers regarding the impeachment of Judge Walter Franklin, whom Buchanan represented as defense attorney in 1816-1817.

Physical Description

0.6 Linear feet ; 1.5 boxes

Legal papers, (1811-1816).
Box 64 Folder 9-11
Legal papers, (1817-1832, undated).
Box 65 Folder 1-9
Judge Franklin's impeachment, (undated).
Box 65 Folder 10

Scope and Contents note

This series contains a highly miscellaneous group of notes, scrapbooks, and miscellaneous papers not in Buchanan's handwriting (boxes 57 and 58). A group of items pertaining to the 1856 Democratic National Convention includes both bound and loose notes, minutes, resolutions, vote records, etc. (box 58 and vol. 24). Another group of papers regard the estate of Stephen Pleasonton (Box 58, folder 12), for which Buchanan was administrator. Other miscellanous materials may have been enclosures with Buchanan's incoming correspondence, but were detached and not identified during the processing of the collection.

This series also includes a copy of a survey conducted between 1962 and 1972 by the National Historical Publications Commission for Buchanan-related materials in the collections of the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress (Box 66, folders 12-13). The survey was conducted in three sections: 1789-1825; 1825-1850; and 1850-1875.

The series includes four miscellaneous bound volumes, including the law notebook of William Speer Buchanan (Vol. 4), two scrapbooks of newsclippings (Vol. 22 and Vol. 25), and the proceedings of the Cincinati [sic] Democratic National Convention of June 1856 (Vol. 24).

Physical Description

2.5 Linear feet

Miscellaneous papers not in Buchanan's handwriting, (1819-1848).
Box 57 Folder 15-20
Miscellaneous papers not in Buchanan's handwriting, (1848-1860, undated).
Box 58 Folder 1-8
1856 Democratic National Convention, (June 2-3, 1856).
Box 58 Folder 9-11
Miscellaneous papers related to secession, (Sept. 1860-Sept. 1861).
Box 58 Folder 12
Miscellaneous papers related to the estate of Stephen Pleasonton, (June 21, 1867).
Box 58 Folder 13
Survey of Library of Congress materials, (undated).
Box 66 Folder 12-15
Law notebook of William Speer Buchanan, (undated).
Volume 4
Scrapbook of news clippings of James Buchanan obituaries, reviews of his administration, (circa 1868).
Volume 22
Proceedings of the Cincinati Democratic National Convention, (June 1856).
Volume 24
Scrapbook of news clippings of James Buchanan obituaries, misc. clippings, (circa 1868-1877).
Volume 25

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