|The very log cabin where he was born|
Anyway, Mr. Buchanan was born in a log cabin in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania on April 23, 1791. He was the last president to be born in the 18th century, and he was the only president we have ever had so far from Pennsylvania. Mr. Buchanan grew up to be a lawyer and state politician. Then he got elected to the House of Representatives and later the Senate. Also he served as Minister to Russia, Secretary of State, and Minister to the United Kingdom. He could have been on the Supreme Court, but he said no when President Pierce wanted to appoint him.
Whenever Mr. Buchanan was in Pennsylvania, he lived in a big, brick house called Wheatland. And he had a dog there who was a 170-pound Newfoundland named Lara. You would think that a dog named "Lara" was a girl dog, but Mr. Buchanan's Lara was a boy dog. I don't know why anybody would name a boy dog "Lara," but maybe it was sort of like in that song "A Boy Named Sue."
When Lara went to live in the White House with President Buchanan, he became a big celebrity. He was especially famous for his habit of lying around without moving for long periods of time, with one eye open and one eye closed.
|Miss Harriet Lane|
The U.S. Consul in South Hampton, England, gave Miss Harriet a little toy terrier named Punch. This dog was so small that people said it would fit under a quart-sized bowl. So in the White House there was a great big dog, Lara, and a little tiny dog, Punch. I also read that President Buchanan had an elephant and an eagle. I don't think he had them at the White House, but I could be wrong about this.
Well, that's all I know about Mr. Buchanan's pets, but I learned some interesting things about his private life that I am now going to tell you. First of all, like I said before, Mr. Buchanan never got married. When he was a young man, he was engaged to a lady from a nice family, and her name was Ann Coleman. But Mr. Buchanan did not spend a lot of time with Miss Ann because he was always busy being a lawyer and a politician and with traveling and stuff. Then one time when he came back to town, he went to visit another woman before he visited Miss Ann, so she got mad and told him she didn't want to marry him after all.
Then a few weeks later, Miss Ann died in kind of a strange way, which the doctor said was "hysteria," but he said he had never seen anyone die from hysteria. Some people think maybe Miss Ann committed suicide by taking too much laudanum, which is a medicine that is made from opium. Anyway, Miss Ann's parents blamed Mr. Buchanan and wouldn't even let him come to the funeral, and he told everyone that his heart was broken, and he said he would never marry anyone ever.
|William Rufus King|
The letters that the two men wrote to each other were burned when they died, which is what they asked their families to do, so there is no real proof that they were gay, but it seems like maybe they were. Which means that President Buchanan might have been the first gay president of the United States!