Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Presidential Birthplace In Mercersburg, Pennsylvania

With nothing planned on this Saturday afternoon I got a late start to Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, birthplace of the 15th president of the United States, James Buchanan (1857-1861).  Heading north on I-81 I crossed into Pennsylvania and stopped at the visitor center to pick up a pamphlet or two about Mercersburg.   

James Buchanan was the only president from Pennsylvania (so far) and he was the only president who was not married, his niece Harriet Lane acted as First Lady during his presidency, and later did what she could after his death to salvage his reputation for history.  Buchanan was preceded Abraham Lincoln as president and was president leading up to the Civil War.  

I always try to visit places like these if I am near, but this is not a place I will return to.  If you are a historian (amateur or professional) you may enjoy Mercersburg, but for being the only president to hail from Pennsylvania, I expected more resource expended on his memory.  

The cabin Buchanan was born in was moved many years ago to the campus of Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg.  Since I was in town to look for all things Buchanan, I hunted it down and took a few pictures.  

Your humble blogger at Buchanan's Birthplace State Park

A few miles north of Mercersburg on route 16 is Buchanan's Birthplace State Park, the land and memorial were park of the "legacy building" done by Buchanan's niece after his death.  I don't know what the significance of the pyramid is (perhaps Buchanan was a Freemason, but I don't know).  The pyramidal monument is 38 feet square and 31 feet high, constructed of native stone and weighs 300 tons including 50 tons of hammered American gray granite for the cabinet, bench and capstone.    

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