PRESIDENTS YOU PROBABLY DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT (BUT SHOULD): 1. Franklin Pierce

14-pierceFranklin Pierce, 1853-1857

As Pierce took office, the issue of slavery was growing hotter by the minute. Five years after he left office, the country would be ripped apart by Civil War.

The central question of Pierce’s presidency was of the Kansas-Nebraska territory: it had been a free territory; but the Kansas-Nebraska Act, proposed by Stephen A. Douglas, would have split the territory in two, and left the question of slavery up to individual states and territories to decide (“popular sovereignty”).

Pierce enacted the bill into law, and Kansas became a literal battleground. Violence ravaged the border, as the North sent rifles to support the abolitionists, and the South pushed settlers into disputed areas.

Pierce’s son Bennie was killed in a train crash just days before Pierce’s inauguration. The tragedy would haunt his wife Jane for the rest of her days.

LEARN MORE: https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/franklinpierce

SEE THE SHOW: http://www.mrt.org/45Plays

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