President James Buchanan is often cited as the worst president in US history, for a lack of leadership — generally attributed to his waffling because he was a pro-southern northerner — that put the country on the final road to the Civil War. So I was very curious to see how Wheatland, Buchanan’s house-turned-museum, would address that allegation. Many house museum narratives, I’ve found, are pretty defensive about the reputations of the people who once lived there.
Buchanan was born in a small cabin in rural Pennsylvania (now part of a state park) and bought Wheatland, a brick, Federal-style house in Lancaster (circa 1828), when he was Secretary of State. Apart from periods while he was ambassador to Great Britain and US President, he lived there for the rest of his life.
The house is owned by the LancasterHistory.org, the local county historical association. The house tour…
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