Messages and Papers of Franklin Pierce

Author: Franklin Pierce

Messages and Papers of

March 4, 1853, to March 4, 1857

FRANKLIN PIERCE was born in Hillsboro, N. H., November 23, 1804. Was the fourth son of Benjamin and Anna Pierce. His father was a citizen of Massachusetts; was a soldier in the War of the Revolution, attaining the rank of captain and brevet major. After peace was declared he removed from Massachusetts to New Hampshire and located near what is now Hillsboro. His first wife was Elizabeth Andrews, who died at an early age. His second wife, the mother of Franklin Pierce, was Anna Kendrick, of Amherst, N.H. He was sheriff of his county, a member of the State legislature and of the governor’s council, and was twice chosen governor of his State (as a Democrat), first in 1827 and again in 1829. For many years he was declared to be "the most influential man in New Hampshire." He died in 1839. Franklin was given an academic education in well-known institutions at Hancock, Francestown, and Exeter, and in 1820 was sent to Bowdoin College. His college mates there were John P. Hale, his future political rival; Professor Calvin E. Stowe; Sergeant S. Prentiss, the distinguished orator; Henry W. Longfellow, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, his future biographer and lifelong friend. He graduated in 1824, being third in his class. After taking his degree he began the study of law at Portsmouth in the office of Levi Woodbury, where he remained about a year. Afterwards spent two years in the law school at Northampton, Mass., and in the office of Judge Edmund Parker, at Amherst, N.H. In 1827 was admitted to the bar and began practice in his native town. Espoused the cause of Andrew Jackson with ardor, and in 1829 was elected to represent his native town in the legislature, where by three subsequent elections he served four years, the last two as speaker. In 1833 was elected to represent his native district in the lower House of Congress, where he remained four years; served on the Judiciary and other important committees. His first important speech in the House was delivered in 1834 upon the necessity of economy and of watchfulness against frauds in the payment of Revolutionary claims. In 1834 married Miss Jane Means Appleton, daughter of Rev. Jesse Appleton, president of Bowdoin College In 1837 was elected to the United States Senate. On account of ill health of hiswife, deeming it best for her to return to New Hampshire, on June 28, 1842, resigned his seat, and returning to his home resumed the practice of the law. In 1838 he changed his residence from Hillsboro to Concord. In 1845 declined an appointment to the United States Senate to fill a vacancy. Also declined the nomination for governor, tendered by the Democratic State convention, and in 1845 an appointment to the office of Attorney-General of the United States, tendered by President Polk. In 1846, when the war with Mexico began, he enlisted as a private in a volunteer company organized at Concord; was soon afterwards commissioned colonel of the Ninth Regiment of Infantry; March 3, 1847, was commissioned brigadier-general in the Volunteer Army, and on March 27 embarked for Mexico, arriving at Vera Cruz June 28. August 6, 1847, joined General Scott with his brigade at Puebla, and soon set out for the capture of the City of Mexico. Took part in the battle of Contreras September 19, 1847, in which engagement he was severely injured by being thrown from his horse. The next day, not having recovered, he undertook to accompany his brigade in action against the enemy, when he fainted. He persisted in remaining on duty in the subsequent operations of the Army. His conduct and services were spoken of in high terms by his superior officers, Generals Scott, Worth, and Pillow. Before the battle of Molino del Rey was appointed one of the American commissioners in the effort for peace, a truce being declared for that purpose. The effort failed and the fighting was renewed. Participated in the battle of Molino del Rey and continued on duty till peace was declared. Resigned his commission in March, 1848, and returned to his home. The same month the legislature of his State voted him a sword of honor in appreciation of his services in the war. Resumed his law practice and was highly successful. In 1850 was a member of the constitutional convention which met at Concord to amend the constitution New Hampshire, and was chosen to preside over its deliberations; he favored the removal of the religious-test clause in the old constitution, by which Roman Catholics were disqualified from holding office in the State, and also the abolition of any "property qualification;" he carried these amendments through the convention, but the people defeated them at the election. In January, 1852, the Democratic State convention of New Hampshire declared for him for President, but in a letter January 12 he positively refused to permit the delegation to present his name. The national convention of the party met at Baltimore June 1, 1852. On the fourth day he was nominated for President, and was elected in November, receiving 254 electoral votes, while his opponent, General Scott, received only 42. Was inaugurated March 4, 1853. In 1856 was voted for by his friends in the national Democratic convention for renomination, but was unsuccessful. Upon the expiration of his term as President he retired to his home at Concord, where he resided the remainder of his life. Died October 8, 1869, and was buried at Concord.


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Chicago: Franklin Pierce, "Title Page," Messages and Papers of Franklin Pierce in 2729. Original Sources, accessed July 2, 2022,

MLA: Pierce, Franklin. "Title Page." Messages and Papers of Franklin Pierce, in , page 2729. Original Sources. 2 Jul. 2022.

Harvard: Pierce, F, 'Title Page' in Messages and Papers of Franklin Pierce. cited in , , pp.2729. Original Sources, retrieved 2 July 2022, from