National Geographic : 1965 Jan
Prince and President stand before Washington's tomb at Mount Vernon. The young Prince of Wales, later ldiward VII, gazes reverently at the crypt of the man \\ho lefeate1 troops of his igreat grandfather, (George III. Having been entertained at Windsor C'astle while Minister to Great Britain, Buchanan reciprocated by inviting the Prince to visit the United States as his personal guest. On this occasion the Prince planted a buckeye tree near the tombr. It diied. In 1919 another Prince of Wales, now the Duke of Windsor, planted an English yew that survives nearby. At left in this paintingtin, Harriet Lane, Buchanan's niece andt White House hostess, holds a parasol. Wounded John Brown lies outside the lire-engine house where lie made his standd at Harpers Ferry. Marines sent by Buchanan subdlued the abolition ist and his little hand. Brown's bid to provoke slave insurrection enraged the Southl; his subse(luent hanging inflamed antislavery forces in the Northi. Brown's martyrdom inspired four soldiers to write the words of the ballad, "John Brown's Body." Inion troops sang the song as they marched to battle in the Civil War. Buchanan decided to end the troubles in Kansas by admitting the territory as a slave state. Although he directed his Presidential authority to this goal, he succeeded only in further angering the Republicans. B\ his re jection of popular sovereignty, he alienated Senator Douglas. Despite all the President's efforts, Kansas remained a territory. When Republicans won a plurality in the House of Representatives in the congressional election of 1858, every significant bill they passed fell before southern votes in the Senate or a Presidential veto. The Federal Govern ment had reached a point of stalemate. The strife reached such a fever stage in 1860 that the Democratic Party split into northern and southern wings, each nominat ing a candlidate for the Presidency. Thus, it was a foregone conclusion that the Republi can nominee, Abraham Lincoln, would be elected even though his name appeared on no southern ballot. When news of Lincoln's election reached South Carolina, southern "fire-eaters" forced secession. Other states in the deep South followed. In Washington, President Buchanan, dis mayed and hesitant, denied the legal right of states to secede but held that the Federal (ov ernment could not prevent them. I e hoped to pave the way for conciliation, and directed his most stinging words against the abolitionists. But every proposed compromise, consisting entirely of concessions to the South, proved unacceptable to the Republicans. In any event, southern leaders of the secession move ment did not want to compromise. Then Buchanan took a militant tack. As several Cabinet members resigned, lihe ap pointed northerners in their places and sent the Star of the W'est to carry reinforcements to Fort Sumter. On January 9, 1861, shore batteries opened fire, driving the ship away. Buchanan reverted to a policy of inactivity that continued until lie relinquished his office. Basically, he believed in coercing the South, but had he acted more vigorously he would only have precipitated the war several months earlier. He retired to his Pennsylvania home in March, 1861, leaving it to his successor to resolve the frightful issue. As Lincoln acted in April, 1861, Buchanan declared, "The present administration had no alternative but accept the war .... The North will sustain the ad ministration almost to a man; and it ought to ble sustained at all hazards." Buchanan died in 1868. END OF PART II Part I of this fur'-part series appi arel in tlhe Noxvem ber, 1904, NATIONAL. (;GEO(;RAPHItC.