Ignore the chuckle-seeking headline and take a look at this helpful little biography of James Buchanan. Here is a man who earned his place on every Worst Presidents Ever list (including this one – my favorite). By the end, you’ll be calling him “lame-o”, too.
Part of the reason Buchanan got the party nomination in the presidential race of 1856 was that he was the least of three evils. President Millard Fillmore, of the Whig “Know Nothing” party, ran for re-election and was challenged by John C. Fremont, the Republican nominee. Both Fremont and Fillmore had been tainted, however, by the Civil War-like conditions over the Kansas question. Namely, should Kansas enter the Union as a free state or a slave state?
Buchanan had been out of the country for most of the fighting over Kansas, serving three years as Minister to England. He beat Fremont by only half a million votes; Fillmore got about 900,000 votes. Fremont carried eleven free states, Buchanan only five. But Buchanan carried every slave state except Maryland.
It’s possible that Buchanan doomed his own presidency early on, simply by announcing that he would not seek re-election in 1860. That made him a not-quite-lame duck, and the party leadership passed to Senator Stephen Douglas.