Rhode Island Archival and Manuscript Collections Online

For Participating Institutions

Franklin Pierce authorization (RLC.Ms.571)

Redwood Library and Athenaeum

50 Bellevue Avenue
Newport, RI 02840
Tel: (401) 847-0292
Fax: (401) 841-5680

Biographical note

Franklin Pierce (1804-1869), the 14th President of the United States, was born on November 23, 1804, in Hillsborough, New Hampshire. Pierce attended Bowdoin College and after his graduation in 1824 he studied law before entering politics. By the time Pierce was thirty, he had served in the New Hampshire legislature and been elected to the United States Congress as both a congressman and a senator. He resigned from the Senate in 1841 and returned to New Hampshire where he established a successful law practice in Concord.

After serving in the Mexican-American War (1846-1846) as a brigadier general in the Army, Pierce was nominated as a dark horse Democratic candidate for the 1852 Presidential election, which he won. Throughout his presidency, Pierce was unable to calm tensions between the North and South over slavery, especially with his signing of the Kansas Nebraska Act and the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act. As a result, Pierce’s popularity among northern Democrats sharply declined and he was not nominated for a second term. After his presidency, Pierce retired to Concord, New Hampshire, where he died on October 8, 1869.