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Lot 7: Exceedingly Rare 1852 JAMES BUCHANAN Autograph Check Signed + 4.25 Inches Long!
29 October 2016
Rancho Santa Fe, CA, USALive Auction
1852 "James Buchanan" Signed Manuscript Check Rarity!
JAMES BUCHANAN (1791-1868). 15th President of the United States from 1857-1861, serving immediately prior to the American Civil War, represented PA. in the US House of Representatives and later the Senate, then served as Minister to Russia under President Andrew Jackson, named Secretary of State under President James K. Polk, and is the last Former Secretary of State to serve as President of the United States.
April 5, 1852-Dated, Autograph Document Signed, "James Buchanan," measuring 8" x 3", Choice Very Fine. This exceedingly rare Check is written on light blue period paper entirely in Buchanan's own hand. It is drawn on the Wheatland branch of the Lancaster Bank, and made out for $20 payable to a Jacob S. Yost, a Congressman from Pennsylvania who was later appointed U.S. Marshall for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by then President James Buchanan. This important Check shows some very light soiling from use and has been laid down to a backer of heavier white stock for support and conservation. Two central standard cut-cancels, one intersecting Buchanan's signature at "Buc." Overall this rarely encountered Check is in pleasing quality and is needed by most "Presidential Check" collectors. The all important signature, "James Buchanan" is written out in full, measuring a huge 4.25" long in nice bold brown ink making it very clear and prominent, ready for framing and display.
James Buchanan, Jr. (April 23, 1791 - June 1, 1868) was the 15th President of the United States (1857-61), serving immediately prior to the American Civil War. He represented Pennsylvania in the United States House of Representatives and later the Senate, then served as Minister to Russia under President Andrew Jackson.
He was named Secretary of State under President James K. Polk, and as of 2016 is the last former Secretary of State to serve as President of the United States. After Buchanan turned down an offer to sit on the Supreme Court, President Franklin Pierce appointed him Ambassador to the United Kingdom, in which capacity he helped draft the Ostend Manifesto.
Buchanan was nominated by the Democratic Party in the 1856 Presidential election. Throughout most of Pierce's presidency, Buchanan had been stationed in London as minister to the Court of St. James's and so was not caught up in the crossfire of sectional politics that dominated the country. His subsequent election victory took place in a three-man race with John C. Frmont and Millard Fillmore. As President, he was often called a "doughface", a Northerner with Southern sympathies, who battled with Stephen A. Douglas for control of the Democratic Party.
Buchanan's efforts to maintain peace between the North and the South alienated both sides, and the Southern states declared their secession in the prologue to the American Civil War. Buchanan's view was that secession was illegal, but that going to war to stop it was also illegal. Buchanan, an attorney, was noted for his mantra, "I acknowledge no master but the law."
By the time he left office, popular opinion was against him and the Democratic Party had split. Buchanan had once aspired to be a president who would rank in history with George Washington. However, his inability to identify a ground for peace or address the sharply divided pro-slavery and anti-slavery partisans with a unifying principle on the brink of the Civil War has led to his consistent ranking by historians as one of the worst presidents in American history. Historians in both 2006 and 2009 voted his failure to deal with secession the worst presidential mistake ever made.
He is, to date, the only president from Pennsylvania and the only president to remain a lifelong bachelor. He was the last president born in the 18th century.