15. James Buchanan (1857-1861)


Vice President – John C. Breckenridge


  • Dred Scott v. Sandford 1857 and decision by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney
  • Panic of 1857
  • Inflation of currency due to inpouring of California gold
  • Overproduction of grain due to Crimean War demands
  • Over speculation in land and railroads
  • More than 5,000 business failed in the year
  • Unemployment and hunger meetings dominated the news
  • North was hardest hit; South weathered it well since cotton prices were up worldwide
  • Lincoln-Douglas Debates 1858
  • Minnesota becomes a state 1858
  • Oregon becomes a state 1859
  • John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry 1859 signals looming Civil War


  • Panic of 1857 ripples throughout Europe’s financial centers
  • Garibaldi forms the Italian National Association for the unification of the country 1857; claims Victor Emmanuel II King of Italy 1860
  • German National Association formed for the unification of Germany under the leadership of Prussia 1859
  • Ground broken on construction of Suez Canal 1859-1869
Tags: Democrat