James Buchanan (1791-1868) was the fifteenth President of the United States, serving from 1857 to 1861. He was succeeded by Abraham Lincoln. Before the presidency, Buchanan served as a member of the House of Representatives representing Pennsylvania (1823-1831, serving two separate districts); Ambassador to Russia (1832-33); United States Senator (1834-1845); Secretary of State for the United States (1845-1849), and; Ambassador to Britain (1853-1856).
Buchanan's inaction in the face of secession of the Southern states, as well as most of the policies he followed during his term as president have firmly established Buchanan as one of the worst Presidents of U.S. history.
The American Civil War broke out in the closing weeks of James Buchanan's presidency. The first battle of the war began in Texas in February, 1961, as Lt. Colonel Robert E. Lee moved to protect Union property and munitions, making a stand at the Alamo. Buchanan, however, proved indecisive throughout the siege, as Lee and his second-in-command Major George Thomas, anticipated.