Franklin Pierce (November 23, 1804 - October 8, 1869) was the 14th President of the United States (1853–1857). His inability to calm tensions over slavery kept the country on the path to the American Civil War. Genial and well-spoken, Pierce was a northern Democrat who saw the abolitionist movement as a fundamental threat to the unity of the nation. His polarizing actions in championing and signing the Kansas-Nebraska Act and enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act failed to stem intersectional conflict, setting the stage for Southern secession, and leaving him widely regarded as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history.
Public Domain (P)2014 John Greenman