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Franklin Pierce: Martyr for the Union

(Franklin Pierce #2)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  87 ratings  ·  20 reviews
In this second volume of Wallner's Pierce biography, President Pierce faces unscrupulous and corrupt politicians, comically inept diplomats, violent adventurers, fanatical reformers, fraud, and speculation within an increasingly divided and contentious nation. But the president never lost faith in the American people.
Hardcover, 498 pages
Published July 4th 2007 by Plaidswede Pub.
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Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This one sits closer to 3.5 stars than to four, I think, mostly because it is unabashedly pro-Pierce. It largely avoids talking about Pierce's drinking and puts the strongest and most noble face on Pierce's presidency, although not quite to the point of deification, since Wallner's conclusion is that Pierce "was the best the nation could have hoped for at the time".

I think I agree with Wallner that while the presidents leading up to the civil war are seen as a series of blunders, it's very possi
Jerry Landry
This ranks up there as one of the best presidential biographies I've had the privilege of reading. I really liked Wallner's pacing and chronological presentation of events. Some biographers group subjects together outside of chronological order while others keep the order but don't present the details clearly to the reader, often leaving the reader disoriented with the subject. This work by Wallner had the perfect touch. As to Pierce, while I didn't necessarily agree with all of Pierce's views o ...more
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it

Peter Wallner’s two-volume biography is the most recent comprehensive look at Pierce’s life and presidency. “Franklin Pierce: Martyr for the Union” is the second volume of the series and was published in 2007. Prior to writing this biography Wallner moved to New Hampshire in order to more fully research Pierce’s life. Previously he was a history teacher; he is now a professor at Franklin Pierce College.

This second volume covers Pierce’s life from his first
Brent Ecenbarger
May 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, presidents
From 1860 to 1865, half of America went to war against the other half, and nearly three quarters of a million people died in the process, In 2017, Donald Trump asked why the Civil War could not have been avoided. I bring up both of those facts because finishing up the second part of this biography series on Franklin Pierce spends a great deal of time on the eight years leading up to the Civil War, four of which Pierce was in office as president. Certainly there is plenty to be found here in term ...more
Mark Roth
Nov 21, 2009 rated it liked it
This book, the second volume of a two-volume biography of Franklin Pierce, covers the time between Pierce's election as president and his death. Like the first volume, it was well written and paints a clear picture of Pierce and his life and times.

I was impressed to learn that Pierce's administration was extremely focused on eliminating corruption, most of which was considered normal by nineteenth century standards. He had strict views on proper ethical behavior for government employees, and he
Sep 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
So glad I worked so hard to fond a copy of this 2nd volume. It seems none of the IA libraries who participate on inter-library loan had one. Pierce was an interesting man whose reputation was trashed during the civil war. He was an advocate of states' rights and a strict interpretation of the constitution. He strongly objected to Lincoln's extensions of executive authority and infringement of civil liberties, for which he was labeled a traitor and suspected of treasonous activity. His wife died ...more
Apr 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'm still fascinated to the max by U.S. history from the 1820s through 1850s. Franklin Pierce was a man of integrity who seemed deeply committed to consistency, honesty, and ridding government of corruption. Needless to say, this pissed off a lot of political players. Also, this book makes you understand Jefferson Davis on a new level, as well as the slavery issue in general, an issue which most of us could stand to learn more about. The development of New Hampshire politics was interesting to r ...more
Tom Rowe
At times dull. However, I now know about Franklin Pierce, the 14th President of the US. He is someone I knew nothing of before this book. He seems to be a very principled man who failed to change with the times. I have found things to both respect and deplore in the man. RIP Franklin Pierce.
Nathan Casebolt
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Franklin Pierce's single term of office as the 14th President of the United States is remarkable for the fact that few remember it. He entered office as American's youngest president to date, determined to shrink and reform a corrupt and venal federal government. So dedicated and loyal was his Cabinet that it remains the only presidential cabinet in America history that saw no turnover in its four years of existence. However, after the Kansas-Nebraska act obliterated the Missouri Compromise and ...more
Jun 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
Part way through the book I realized how much the title, Martyr for the Union (He wasn't) reflected how much of Franklin Pierce's life and work had been sanitized and how much hero worship was involve in writing the second volume of his life (I haven't read it, and don't intend to). Peter Wallner takes a president, who placed more importance on his party over the United States, Native Americans and slavery, and used the Constitution as justification. He is sited as not wanting people to benefit ...more
I like this second volume better than the first. As a matter of fact, I found it somewhat of a page turner in parts. I especially liked the bit describing the formation of a camel corps used in the American southwest until the 1860's. Even though Pierce was a racist I see what he was trying to do as a strict Constitutionalist. According to the Constitution at that time, slavery was legal and he was trying to keep the country all in one piece by pacifying the southern states. During his years liv ...more
Daniel Farabaugh
This book has two failings that took away from my enjoyment. First, the author works so hard to lionize Pierce and justify what he did that he needs to do verbal gymnastics to rationalize it. Pierce was on the wrong side of history with slavery and failed to address it meaningfully. The author constantly lionizes his principles but those are meaningless without effective execution. Taking a principled stand is not good if those principles are not worth it nor able to be put into practice.

The oth
R. Jones
Nov 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book starts with Pierce's presidency, and ends with his death. That's fitting for a sequel, and I can't fault Wallner for not retreading area he already covered in his first book. However, I still felt like I was missing some crucial information about the personality and character of our fourteenth president. The book also had a tendency to cover every detail of his presidency. This certainly makes it the definitive book on Franklin Pierce, but it's easy to get lost in such a vast sea of in ...more
Dave Benner
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Probably the best work on Pierce, although not fantastic.
John Brown
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Great read and very through with Pierce's political life in NH and in the White House. Highly recommend both volumes.
Anthony Bergen
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
My review in AND Magazine: ...more
Christian Dibblee
The Pierce administration makes for frustrating and fascinating reading all at the same time. On the fascinating side, Pierce was perhaps one of the more consistent presidents when it came to his Constitutional interpretation. Described often in this book as a "civil libertarian", Pierce refused to let -isms take over his administration. As a result, he is often deemed one of the worst Presidents in history due to his unwillingness to get more involved as it pertained to the extension of slavery ...more
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In addition to the comprehensive history, I loved reading about Pierce's friendship with Nathanial Hawthorne - and how he helped out his struggling author friend by giving him high-paying government positions. So while it's discouraging to see that authors have always struggled financially, I loved reading about this long relationship. Still just kills me that Hawthorne is now read in almost every high school - and never got to experience that sort of huge success.
Tom Mobley
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: presidents
To be clear, Pierce was not a good President, but then again, given where our country was at that point in time not sure anyone could have lead us.

Half the country made up of slaves states, half the northern states wanting status quo and the other half wanting abolition, but not on the same page.

But, the books do a good job telling the story of his life and explains the history.

Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was seriously interesting! It was well written and I now know so much that I wouldn't otherwise. I saw so many parallels to what is going on today.
Bill Small
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Martin Lowery
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