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The President Who Lost His Sons: Franklin Pierce

Updated on December 18, 2015
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I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 8.

Image Credit to
Image Credit to

Franklin Pierce for Teachers, Students, & All Who Love to Learn

Looking for great YouTube video clips, books, and free worksheets and lapbooks for teaching and/or learning about President Franklin Pierce? Here you will find my favorite picks we used while studying the individual Presidents of the United States. This is part of a series of lessons I posted on individual Presidents. You can find links to all the lessons at President's Day Unit Study .

Do You Think Franklin Pierce Was a Good President?

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Just the Facts on Our 14th President

Presidential Term: 1853-1857

Political Party: Democrat

Vice President: William R. King

Birthplace: New Hampshire

Occupation: Lawyer

Yearly Salary as President: $25,000

Height: 5'10"

First Lady: Jane Appleton Pierce

Franklin Pierce became the Democratic candidate for president simply to break a deadlock over who would be nominated. He was views as an acceptable candidate because he had never mentioned his views on slavery and because served in the Mexican-American War and could be portrayed as a war hero. The Democrats won the election with the campaign "We Polked you in 1844; we shall Pierce you in 1852!"

Great Worksheets, Lapbooks, Trivia, & Recipes

We found these to be helpful when creating a notebook, lapbook, and cooking project on President Franklin Pierce.

Franklin Pierce for Teachers offers links to free worksheets, book suggestions, general information and trivia, interactive computer games, and more related to president Franklin Pierce.

Franklin Pierce's Favorite New Hampshire Fried Pies Recipe provides a recipe for one of Franklin Pierce's favorite foods, New Hampshire Fried Pies, and also includes a description of some of his other favorite dishes.

Presidential Statistics and Points of Interest includes an overview of Franklin Pierce's life and some fun points of interest.

Our Favorite Children's Book on President Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce: Fourteenth President 1853-1857 (Getting to Know the US Presidents)
Franklin Pierce: Fourteenth President 1853-1857 (Getting to Know the US Presidents)

This was our favorite picture book biography on Pierce. It gives a nice overview of his life and includes plenty of fun illustrations that keep the attention of even my younger children. * Also look for "How To Draw The Life And Times Of Franklin Pierce" (Kid's Guide to Drawing the Presidents of the United States of America) by Dulce Zamora which combines step-by-step drawing lessons with the major events of Pierce's life. Each page includes a brief overview as well of the significance of that event.


Timeline of Major Events During Pierce's Presidency

Timeline of Major Events from 1853-1856

Gadsden Purchase

Kansas-Nebraska Act
Republican Party organized
Ostend Manifesto
Treaty with Japan negotiated by Commodore Matthew Perry

Development of Know-Nothing Party (anti-Catholic & anti-foreigners)

John Brown Raid & Pottawatomie Massacre

Franklin Pierce had 3 sons, all of whom died as children. His third son, Benjamin, died in a train accident on the way to his father's inauguration. Benjamin's death threw Franklin and his wife into deep depression, tainting Pierce's presidential performance.

Image Credit

 "Bleeding Kansas" Image credit:
"Bleeding Kansas" Image credit:

Pierce insisted that Congress pass the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed the setters in those two territories to decide on the legality of slavery in their states. This led to "Bleeding Kansas," with fighting breaking out between settlers who did and did not support slavery. This led directly to the creation of the Republican party. Pierce received so many threats, that he became the first president to hire a full-time bodyguard.

Ostend Manifesto
Ostend Manifesto | Source

In the Ostend Manifesto, Pierce's Secretary of State justified why the US should purchase Cuba from Spain, or take it by force if their offer was not accepted. Northerners viewed this as an attempt to annex additional slave-holding territories. Ultimately, Pierce was unsuccessful in acquiring Cuba from Spain.

Gadsden Purchase
Gadsden Purchase

Pierce's successes during his presidency include the Gadsden Purchase, which added parts of Arizona and New Mexico to the US. Also, during his presidency, Commodore Perry completed the negotiations with Japan and opened the country to Western trade.

The first Christmas tree in the White House image credit:
The first Christmas tree in the White House image credit:

Franklin Pierce was the first President to have a Christmas tree in the White House.

Our Favorite YouTube Video Clip on President Franklin Pierce

These were our favorite YouTube clips that cover Pierce's presidency. They are all appropriate for children to watch.

Looking for more lessons on Presidents or all of my unit studies and lessons?

  • President's Day Unit Study - I posted links to each of my lessons on individual Presidents here. In each lesson I included fun worksheets, children's books, YouTube clips, timelines, and recipe ideas. On this page I also included our favorite books and YouTube video clips that cover all of the Presidents of the United States.
  • Fun, FREE Hands-On Unit Studies - I have posted my links to over 35 hands-on unit studies (compromised of over 170 lessons) that focus primarily on science and social studies. In each lesson plan I have listed the activities that we did (and included photos), the books we read, YouTube video clips that we watched, and lapbook links that pair with the lesson.

What first comes to mind when you think of Franklin Pierce? - Or just let me know you dropped by. I LOVE getting feedback from you!

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