"James Buchanan and the Coming of the Civil War" with John Quist and Michael Birkner

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Department 1



As James Buchanan took office in 1857, the United States found itself at a crossroads. Dissolution of the Union had been averted and the Democratic Party maintained control of the federal government, but the nation watched to see if Pennsylvania's first president could make good on his promise to calm sectional tensions. Despite Buchanan's central role in a crucial hour in U.S. history, few presidents have been more ignored by historians. In assembling the essays for this volume, Michael Birkner and John Quist have asked leading scholars to reconsider whether Buchanan’s failures stemmed from his own mistakes or from circumstances that no president could have overcome.


This podcast is an interview with John Quist and Michael J. Birkner '72, authors of a new book, James Buchanan and the Coming of the Civil War. Use this link to access the full podcast on PCN's website. The epilogue of the book is also available in The Cupola at http://cupola.gettysburg.edu/histfac/40.