Franklin Pierce was the 14th President of the United States. He was born on November 23, 1804, in Hillsboro, New Hampshire. Pierce served as president for one term, from 1853 to 1857.
Before becoming president, Pierce was elected to the New Hampshire legislature, and later served as Congressman in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. In 1847, he served as a brigadier general in the Mexican-American War.
When the Democratic Party chose Franklin Pierce to run for President in 1852, not many people had ever heard of him. Part of the reason he was elected (by a narrow margin) was because he strongly supported the Compromise of 1850, which was passed under Fillmore. The Compromise eased the debate over the future of slavery by granting rights to both sides.
Under Pierce's leadership, James Gadsden bought land from Mexico (the Gadsden Purchase). This added to the United States land that today is part of southern Arizona and New Mexico and opened the way for a southern transcontinental railroad.
Also under Pierce, the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed. This Act repealed the Missouri Compromise, reopening the possibility that new states in the West could become slave states. It used the principle of "popular sovereignty," meaning settlers in a new territory could decide whether to allow slavery or not in that territory.
Pierce's party decided not to back him to run for President in the following election, and he retired from politics at the end of his term. He died on October 8, 1869, in Concord, New Hampshire.
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