33 Most Inspiring James Buchanan Quotes

James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States from 1857 to 1861, was born April 23, 1792, in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. He was president when the U.S. was experiencing an extremely difficult time in its history. During this time, pro-slavery and anti-slavery confrontations had reached their peak leading to civil war in these years.

James Buchanan could not come up with a solution to these problems thus a civil war started immediately when his term as the president came to an end. He wanted to be the greatest president of all time, but this did not happen. Nevertheless, he is remembered as the only United States president from Pennsylvania.

James Buchanan studied at Dickinson College, Carlisle, and graduated in 1809. He then studied law in Lancaster and was admitted to the bar in the year 1812 and with no time, he established a very successful law practice. He had a gift of oratory which led him to politics. His political career was long since after his party disintegrated, James associated himself with the Democratic Party which was emerging at that time. He also served as the U.S. minister to St. Petersburg between 1831 to 1833. He was also the U.S. senator between 1835-1845 and finally the secretary of state between 1845-1849.

Additionally, James Buchanan never married and made history as the only bachelor president. Before being president Buchanan was stationed at the Court of St. James, in London. He often stated that he would never do anything against the law, thus bringing more ridicule from his oppositions. Altogether, President James Buchanan was an incredible orator who delivered amazing speeches during his presidency and political career in general. Below is a collection of quotes derived from James Buchanan’s thoughts. Read them for unlimited inspiration.

James Buchanan Quotes

1. “To avoid entangling alliances has been a maxim of our policy ever since the days of Washington, and its wisdom no one will attempt to dispute.”– James Buchanan

2. “If you are as happy in entering the White House as I shall feel on returning to Wheatland, you are a happy man indeed.”– James Buchanan

3. “How would the US be different today if people coming off the boat were greeted with a welfare check instead of a shovel?”– James Buchanan

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4. “The test of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.”– James Buchanan

5. “People share a universal behavioural trait: if there are profits to be made, the effort to get that money will attract investment. This is true in the private sector, the market sector, as well as the public sector.”– James Buchanan

6. “Whatever the result may be, I shall carry to my grave the consciousness that I at least meant well for my country.”– James Buchanan

7. “Liberty must be allowed to work out its natural results; and these will, ere long, astonish the world.”– James Buchanan

8. “The course of events is so rapidly hastening forward that the emergency may soon arise when you may be called upon to decide the momentous question whether you possess the power by force of arms to compel a State to remain in the Union.”– James Buchanan

9. “For a moment my heart stopped beating. “It’s not the fall you know.” His breath was all warm on my cheek. “It’s that sudden stop at the end that does it.” Just before I kissed him, I whispered, “I hope it doesn’t hurt much.”– James Buchanan

10. “It ain’t nothing but you and the heavens and they’re so big and so bright that you realize just how little some things matter. And then sometimes, you realize how much little things matter.”– James Buchanan

11. “The fact is that our Union rests upon public opinion and can never be cemented by the blood of its citizens…If it can not live in the affections of its people, it must die.”– James Buchanan

12. “I have seldom met an intelligent person whose views were not narrowed and distorted by religion.”– James Buchanan

13. “The Government of the United States possesses no power whatever over the question of religion.”– James Buchanan

14. “All the friends that I loved and wanted to reward are dead, and all the enemies that I hated and I had marked out for punishment are turned to my friends.”– James Buchanan

15. “The ballot box is the surest arbiter of disputes among free men.”– James Buchanan

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16. “Politicians and bureaucrats are no different from the rest of us. They will maximize their incentives just like everybody else.”– James Buchanan

17. “We want to limit the exploitation of the fiscal capacity of the richer regions by keeping down the rate of immigration to a level that would be meaningful and efficient. One way to do that is to have a scheme of equalization which essential bribes people to stay in the poorer regions.”– James Buchanan

18. “Our union rests upon public opinion, and can never be cemented by the blood of its citizens shed in civil war.”– James Buchanan

19. “If you are as happy, my dear sir, on entering this house as I am in leaving it and returning home, you are the happiest man in this country.”– James Buchanan

20. “The distribution of patronage of the Government is by far the most disagreeable duty of the President.”– James Buchanan

21. “All the friends that I loved and wanted to reward are dead, and all the enemies that I hated and I had marked out for punishment are turned to my friends.”– James Buchanan

22. “Abstract propositions should never be discussed by a legislative body.”– James Buchanan

23. “There is nothing stable but Heaven and the Constitution.”– James Buchanan

24. “Prevent the American people from crossing the Rocky Mountains? You might as well command Niagara not to flow. We must fulfill our destiny.”– James Buchanan

25. “What is right and what is practicable are two different things.”– James Buchanan

26. “The distribution of patronage of the Government is by far the most disagreeable duty of the President.”– James Buchanan

27. “I have gone wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any of them.”– James Buchanan

28. “If politicians get money to spend and don’t have to be responsible for taxation, then of course that will bias their attitude toward more spending as opposed to cutting back on spending.”– James Buchanan

29. “My momma always said bossy was good for a deputy and bad for everything else.”– James Buchanan

30. “Liberals have lost the soul. We haven’t recognized the necessity of defending our own system at the level of ideas. We have to get people to treat the idea of a free society as a civic religion or a faith. We need to fight for that faith.”– James Buchanan

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31. “The assumption that we can keep societies open and free to everybody is going to have to stop. We are going to have to recognize that some people simply are not qualified and do not want to belong a civil order. Until we begin to make discrimination along those lines, then I think we are going to be extremely vulnerable.”– James Buchanan

32. “I am the last President of the United States!”– James Buchanan

33. “There is nothing stable but Heaven and the Constitution.”– James Buchanan

Related: Martin Van Buren Quotes  and also Grover Cleveland Quotes

Was James Buchanan the WORST President in American History?

Mo Rocca offers a history lesson on President James Buchanan, whom many historians consider to be our nation’s worst chief executive. This video is short, fun and educational and makes the strong argument that Buchanan really was the worst president in our history.


To wrap it up, James Buchanan was a famous politician and also the 15th president of the United States. During his reign as president, the United States was very delicate since the pro-slavery and anti-slavery confrontations had reached their zenith thus resulting in civil war.

Nevertheless, he was a very popular politician who believed that he could not do anything that was against the law. He was well respected and often known as the professor of politics.

Image Credit: “James Buchanan, President 1857 – 1861” byUS Department of State is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

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