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Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce
Artist
George Peter Alexander Healy, 15 Jul 1813 - 24 Jun 1894
Sitter
Franklin Pierce, 23 Nov 1804 - 8 Oct 1869
Date
1853
Type
Painting
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
Stretcher: 76.5 × 64.1 × 2.5cm (30 1/8 × 25 1/4 × 1")
Frame: 90.8 x 77.5 x 7cm (35 3/4 x 30 1/2 x 2 3/4")
Topic
Franklin Pierce: Male
Franklin Pierce: Law and Law Enforcement\Lawyer
Franklin Pierce: Politics and Government\US Senator\New Hampshire
Franklin Pierce: Politics and Government\President of US
Franklin Pierce: Military\Army\Officer\Brigadier General
Franklin Pierce: Politics and Government\US Congressman\New Hampshire
Portrait
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; transfer from the National Gallery of Art; gift of the A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, 1942; frame conserved with funds from the Smithsonian Women's Committee
Restrictions & Rights
CC0
Object number
NPG.65.49
Exhibition Label
Fourteenth president, 1853–1857
“What luck Frank has,” remarked Nathaniel Hawthorne when he began writing a campaign biography of his lifelong friend Franklin Pierce, the 1852 Democratic candidate for president. Pierce coasted effortlessly through elections to New Hampshire state offices and to Congress, and rose from the rank of private to brigadier general in the Mexican-American War without firing a shot. Once in the White House, however, his luck ran out. When fighting erupted in Kansas between pro- and anti-slavery factions, Pierce, a Northerner with Southern sympathies, was unwilling to antagonize his Southern friends or to use the authority of his office to intervene. As a result, his administration, which had begun so hopefully with the Compromise of 1850, ended in the midst of a series of violent political confrontations, referred to as “Bleeding Kansas,” that foreshadowed the Civil War.
14o presidente, 1853–1857
“Qué suerte tiene Frank”, comentó Nathaniel Hawthorne cuando empezó a escribir una biografía de Franklin Pierce, su amigo de toda la vida, para la campaña electoral de este en 1852. Pierce, candidato presidencial por el Partido Demócrata, había sido electo sin mayor esfuerzo a puestos estatales en New Hampshire y luego al Congreso de Estados Unidos, además de haber ascendido de soldado raso hasta brigadier general en la guerra con México sin disparar un tiro. Sin embargo, al llegar a la Casa Blanca se le acabó la suerte. Cuando estalló un conflicto en Kansas entre facciones en pro y en contra de la esclavitud, Pierce, norteño con simpatías sureñas, no quiso antagonizar a sus amigos del sur ni ejercer su autoridad para intervenir. A raíz de esto, su administración, comenzada con tantas esperanzas cifradas en el Compromiso de 1850, terminó en medio de violentas confrontaciones políticas conocidas como “Kansas Sangrante”, que ya anunciaban la Guerra Civil.
Provenance
Perry Belmont (1851-1947), New York and Washington; purchased 27 January 1919 by Thomas B. Clarke [1848-1931], New York; purchased 29 December 1936 by The A. W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift to NGA 1942; transferred 1965 to NPG.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
Exhibition
America's Presidents (Reinstallation September 2017)
On View
NPG, South Gallery 240