More of Don's
Presidents' Places: Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce's family moved into this nice house in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, shortly after Franklin was born.
Franklin didn't do well in school until the last couple of years of college. He was a fun-loving young man.
The house was not open, so I had to take a picture through the window. You can see that although it is a stately house, it is not luxurious.
When I saw this wall, I was reminded of Robert Frost's poem, Mending Walls. "Something there is that doesn't like a wall. . . ." ran through my mind all day. Frost tells us why although the farmer stacks the stones carefully, by the next spring many of the stones will be on the ground. Something doesn't like them stacked up neatly and causes some of them to fall.
The Pierces lived in this house, at a different location, before he became president.
The Pierces' marriage was not a happy one. Fun-loving, hard-drinking, socializing Franklin married somber, dour, reclusive religious nut Jane for some indiscernible reason. During his campaign for the presidency, she prayed that he would not be elected; unfortunately, her prayers went unanswered.
A few weeks before inauguration day, the Pierces and their only remaining child were riding on a train. There was a wreck; young Franklin Pierce, only 11 years old, was killed right before his parents' eyes. Jane took this as a sign that God was punishing them for being so uppety as to want to be president.
On inauguration day she sat in a hotel room in Washington and wrote letters to their dead son. She refused to perform social functions during their term, and had the rooms of the White House hung in black.
Pierce had had a very successful pre-presidential political career and legal career, plus an unsuccessful short-lived military career (where he earned the nickname "Fainting Frank"). At forty-eight, he was the youngest person elected president up to that time. As president, he had a knack of supporting the wrong side of issues and appointing the wrong people to office. His best buddy was Jefferson Davis, whose wife performed most of the duties of First Lady.
Franklin and Jane lived here in Concord, New Hampshire, from the time he left the presidency until Franklin died. The house burned down in 1981; this is all that's left.
The Pierce family is buried in the Old North Cemetery in Concord, New Hampshire.