Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Memorial Wednesday: James Buchanan

Washington has one. Lincoln, yes. FDR has a one. Jefferson, too, of course. Wilson has a whole house dedicated to his presidency. And Eisenhower is getting his memorial soon. You may not have known, but Buchanan is on that list, too. James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States, has a memorial in DC; just like some of the more well known and revered holders of the office. 

Buchanan is known mostly for1) presiding over the U.S. as the states slipped into the Civil War and 2) being the only President who never married. His bungling of the slavery issue and general reluctance to address tensions between the north and south tainted his presidency; arguably more than any other one-termer. 

His presidential statue is on what was supposed to be "The Avenue of Presidents." 16th Street NW has been envisioned as many things; the Prime Meridian, Embassy Row and the Avenue of Presidents among others. The Buchanan statue was finished in 1930, but was actually included in the original plans for Meridian Hill Park. The park's construction lasted from 1912 until 1936. It was donated by the President's niece and sculpted bHans Schuler. It remains as the only presidential statue to grace 16th Street. The others are downtown on the National Mall. 

Buchanan's statue is located on the lower level of Meridian Hill-Malcolm X Park in the southeast corner, only steps from the 15th St entrance.