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Wheatland, the Home of President James Buchanan – Pic of the Week

Our picture of the week is Wheatland, the home of President James Buchanan. President Buchanan is not rated highly by historians due to his inability to prevent the Southern states from seceding from the Union, but he came to the office with impressive credentials, having served as a lawyer, Secretary of State, Minister to the United Kingdom and Russia, United States Senator, member of the United States House of Representatives, and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from Lancaster County. But as the introductory film in Wheatland’s visitor’s center concluded, Buchanan had a much more limited view of the powers of the presidency than Americans have today. As such, he believed there was little he could do to prevent the Southern states from seceding. Buchanan resolved to maintain and reinforce federal forts in Southern states and wait for the Confederate states to make a move against them. That action took place with the firing on Fort Sumter after Abraham Lincoln had taken office. As Buchanan rode in a carriage with Abraham Lincoln to Lincoln’s inauguration, Buchanan is said to have remarked, “My dear sir, if you are as happy in entering the White House as I shall feel on returning to Wheatland, you are a happy man indeed.”

Wheatland, the home of President James Buchanan

Wheatland, the home of President James Buchanan. Photo by Robert Brammer.

The tour guide pointed out several interesting artifacts that were owned by Buchanan, including some of his legal texts, a bottle of wine from his personal collection, a teak desk from India that he used in his office in the White House, and even the bed that he died in. When asked about Buchanan’s legacy, the tour guide acknowledged that while he may not be considered a great president, Buchanan’s influence can be felt elsewhere, in that he raised his niece, Harriet Lane, to become an independent, educated woman, and part of his legacy can be felt through her work to promote the availability of pediatric medicine and the arts.

The desk that President Buchanan used in the White House.

The desk that President Buchanan used in the White House. Photo by Robert Brammer.

President James Buchanan's legal texts.

President Buchanan’s legal texts. Photo by Robert Brammer.

President Buchanan's deathbed.

President Buchanan’s deathbed. Photo by Robert Brammer.

The American Battle Monuments Commission and the Commemoration of America’s D-Day Fallen

Today is the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy by Allied forces during World War II, usually referred to as D-Day.  The amphibious and airborne invasions secured a beachhead in northwestern France, which allowed for the rapid build up of forces needed to secure France’s liberation. The invasion was part of an overall strategic plan, Operation Overlord, […]

Introducing Spanish Legal Documents (15th – 19th Centuries): Opinions and Judgments

The following is a guest post by Stephen Mayeaux, Legal Information Specialist in the Digital Resources Division at the Law Library of Congress.  The Law Library of Congress is proud to share the first of six subsections that comprise our Spanish Legal Documents collection (also known as the “Hispanic Legal Documents” collection, and often discussed […]

Constitution Day and Election Day in Denmark

On this day 170 years ago, the Danish King Frederik VII signed the Danish Constitution of 1849, creating a constitutional monarchy. Thus, today marks Grundlovsdagen (Constitution Day). Although a national and bank holiday, the day is not such a grand affair as Constitution Day of Norway. This year may be different, though, as Denmark holds its […]

The Centennial Celebration of Woman’s Suffrage Begins

The following is a guest post by Colleen Shogan, the Assistant Deputy Librarian of Collections and Services at the Library of Congress. She is also the Library’s designee on the Woman’s Suffrage Centennial Commission. The Library of Congress opens its newest exhibition, Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote, on Tuesday, June 4, 2019. This […]

A Follow-up Interview with Elin Hofverberg, Foreign Law Specialist

Our interview series on In Custodia Legis started almost nine years ago with an interview of the then-Law Librarian of Congress, Roberta Shaffer.  We are now approaching 300 interviews.  Today’s interview with Elin marks a first: it is the first time we have completed a follow-up interview.  Elin was originally interviewed in 2011 when she […]

Dr. Raphael Lemkin, the Totally Unofficial Man

Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jewish international law jurist who lived and taught law in the United States at the end of his life, is famous for coining the word “genocide”. He also worked to make the act of genocide a crime in international law. As a child in rural Poland, Lemkin was fascinated by historical […]

On This Day: Everglades National Park Established

Eighty-five years ago today, on May 30, 1934, Congress established Everglades National Park. The park is one of the most unique national parks in the country. It is 1.5 million acres of what is commonly referred to as “swampland,” but actually contains at least eight different ecosystems, including freshwater sloughs, marl prairies, hardwood hammocks, pinelands, […]

An Interview with Rose Tempowski, Scholar-in-Residence at the Law Library of Congress

Describe your background. I’m from a small village in Derbyshire, a county in the East Midlands of England, and don’t live far from the house I grew up in. My parents are both from Birmingham, but moved to Derbyshire just before they had me. I lived in the northern city of Sheffield as an undergraduate, […]

Congress.gov New, Tip and Top for May 2019, Part 2

Earlier this month, Andrew shared the update to our committee schedule page, which launched in January 2019. With this month’s second release, we have enhanced the navigation of member profile pages.  When viewing a bill or resolution on a member profile page, you can use the navigation arrows to move from the next or previous […]