1834-1845: U.S. Senate

1834 spacer James Buchanan moves into the former home of Ann Coleman at 42 East King Street in Lancaster, PA; Esther Parker, known as Miss Hetty, becomes Buchanan's housekeeper. spacer
    James Buchanan develops a romantic attachment to either Ann Kittera or Mary Kittera Snyder.  
spacer spacer spacer Feb. 17 - The US and Spain sign the Van Ness Convention, settling territorial claims.
spacer spacer spacer Apr. 14 - The Whig Party is established by opponents of Andrew Jackson.
spacer spacer spacer June 28 - The Second Coinage Act establishes a 16-1 ratio between gold and silver.
    James Buchanan discovers that the family of brother-in-law Reverend Robert Henry owns two slaves in Shepherdstown, VA. Buchanan arranges a deed of transfer for the two slaves, stipulating that one slave shall work for Buchanan for seven years before obtaining her freedom. The other shall work for him until the age of 28.  
    Dec. 6 - James Buchanan is elected to the US Senate as a Democrat.  
    Dec. - Senator Buchanan visits his brother Edward Young Buchanan, now minister for the Protestant Episcopal Church in Leacock Township, Lancaster County, PA; Buchanan then proceeds to Washington, DC.  
    Dec. 15 - Senator Buchanan takes his seat in the US Senate.  
    Dec. 22 - Senator Buchanan writes to the PA Legislature, acknowledging his election to the US Senate and voicing his belief in the doctrine of instruction.  
1835   Senator Buchanan spends a good deal of time and energy throughout the year rebuilding his political power in PA.  
    Jan. 14 - Senator Buchanan supports Andrew Jackson's desire to use force if the French do not pay damages owed for interference with American shipping.  
    Jan. 18 - Senator Buchanan speaks in favor of Andrew Jackson's recommendation to observe a policy of partial non-intercourse with France.  
spacer spacer spacer Jan. 30 - The first assassination attempt on a president occurs when Richard Lawrence fires two shots at President Andrew Jackson, who is unhurt.
    Feb. 17 - Senator Buchanan defends the president's authority to remove executive officers.
    Mar. 3 - Senator Buchanan supports the appropriation of $3 million for defense in case the country goes to war with France before the next session of Congress convenes.  
spacer spacer spacer July 8 - The Liberty Bell cracks while tolling the death of Chief Justice John Marshall.
spacer spacer spacer Nov. 24 - The Texas Provincial Government forms the Texas Rangers, a mounted police force.
spacer spacer spacer Dec. 9 - The Texas Army, commanded by Colonel Benjamin Milan, captures San Antonio.
spacer spacer spacer Dec. 15 - President Santa Anna of Mexico issues a constitution for all Mexican territories, including Texas.
    Dec. 17 - Senator Buchanan becomes a member of the Judiciary Committee.  
spacer spacer spacer Dec. 28 - Seminole Indians defeat American troops commanded by General Wiley Thompson at Fort King, Florida, during the Second Seminole War.
1836   Senator Buchanan makes efforts to foster cooperation between the two factions within the PA Democratic Party.  
    Senator Buchanan presides over a committee dealing with the right to petition.  
    Senator Buchanan becomes chairman of the Committee to Consider the Question of the Prohibition of Slavery and the Slave Trade in the District of Columbia.  
    Jan. 7 - Senator Buchanan speaks against John Calhoun's motion to refuse to receive anti-slavery memorials in the US Senate.  
    Jan. 7 - Senator Buchanan argues that slavery is a state issue; he does not believe that slavery should be abolished in the District of Columbia while it is still legal in Maryland and Virginia.  
    Jan. 11 - Senator Buchanan presents the anti-slavery memorial of the Caln Quarterly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in PA; he moves that this memorial be read and rejected.  
    Jan. 19 - Senator Buchanan argues once again in support of the right of petition.  
    Feb. 1 - Senator Buchanan speaks in favor of a resolution to designate a portion of the federal treasury surplus for defense.
spacer spacer spacer Feb. 25 - Samuel Colt is awarded a patent for his “six-shooter” revolver.
spacer spacer spacer Mar. 2 - Texas declares itself an independent republic.
spacer spacer spacer Mar. 6 - Mexican General Santa Anna overtakes the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, killing all of the defenders, including frontiersman Davy Crockett.
    Mar. 9 - Senator Buchanan votes to receive the petition of the Caln Quarterly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in PA; he then moves to reject that petition.  
    Mar. 11 - Senator Buchanan makes a motion that results in the defeat of John Calhoun's "gag rule," which is directed against abolitionist petitions.  
    Mar. 11 - Senator Buchanan votes to reject the petition of the Caln Quarterly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in PA.  
spacer spacer spacer Mar. 15 - Roger Brooke Taney is confirmed by the Senate as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
    Apr. 1 - Senator Buchanan argues that Michigan should be admitted to the Union.  
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Apr. 20 - Congress establishes the Wisconsin Territory.

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Apr. 21 - The Texas Army, under General Sam Houston, defeats the Mexicans at the Battle of San Jacinto, Texas.

    Apr. 25 - Senator Buchanan presents the petition of the Society of Friends in Philadelphia against admitting Arkansas as a slave state; he moves that it be laid upon the table.  
    May 4 - Senator Buchanan supports a policy of non-intervention in Texas-Mexico affairs unless the US is attacked.  
    May 4 - Senator Buchanan supports additional defense along the US frontier.  
    May 4 - Senator Buchanan supports the land bill.  
    May 9 - Senator Buchanan gives a speech in support of a policy of non-intervention in Texas-Mexico affairs unless the US is attacked; he supports a stronger defense force along the Texan border.  
    May 20 - Senator Buchanan argues that it is not unconstitutional for volunteers to be mustered into the US service, or for the president to appoint officers and notify the Senate of appointments at the beginning of the Senate's next session.  
    June 8 - Senator Buchanan votes for the Incendiary Publications Bill.  
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June 12 - Arkansas becomes the 25th state in the Union.

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June 23 - Congress passes the Deposit Act, calling for one or more banks in each state to hold public deposits.

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June 28 - James Madison, 4th president of the US, dies in Montpelier, Virginia.

    June 30 - Senator Buchanan writes an open letter regarding the re-charter of the US Bank.  
    July 4 - Senator Buchanan submits a written message against the US Bank to a Fourth of July meeting of Democrats in Harrisburg, PA.  
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Oct. 22 - Sam Houston becomes the first President of the Republic of Texas.

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Nov. 7 - California declares independence from Mexico.

    Dec. - Senator Buchanan becomes the first person to be elected by the PA legislature for a second term in the US Senate.  
    Dec. 12 - Senator Buchanan is elected chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations.  
    Dec. 14 - Senator Buchanan is made a member of the Committee on the District of Columbia.  
1837   Senator Buchanan is disappointed when he is not selected to fill the position of secretary of state.  
    Jan. - Senator Buchanan is reelected to the US Senate as a Democrat.  
    Jan. 3 - Senator Buchanan defends George Dallas against charges that Dallas claimed the PA Constitutional Convention could repeal the US Bank's PA charter.  
    Jan. 16 - Senator Buchanan supports the Expunging Resolution.  
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Jan. 26 - Michigan becomes the 26th state in the Union.

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Feb. 6 - The House of Representatives rules that slaves do not have the right of petition that American citizens have under the Constitution.

    Feb. 18 - Senator Buchanan's first report as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee is rejected by the secretary of state.  
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Feb. 25 - Thomas Davenport of Rutland, Vermont is awarded a patent for the first practical electric motor.

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Mar. 3 - Congress increases the membership in the Supreme Court from seven to nine justices.

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Mar. 3 - Congress recognizes the Republic of Texas.


Mar. 4 - Senator Buchanan attends Martin Van Buren's inauguration and the inaugural ball at Carusi's; he then leaves for Harrisburg, PA, where members of the state government are in disagreement over the US Bank.

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Mar. 4 - Martin Van Buren is inaugurated as the 8th US president.  

    Senator Buchanan's supporters believe that he can reunify the PA Democrats by running for governor in 1838; Buchanan announces that he would rather keep his seat in the US Senate.  
    Senator Buchanan is mobbed by US Bank supporters while in Philadelphia.  
    May - Senator Buchanan attends a session of the PA Constitutional Convention in Harrisburg, PA.  
    Senator Buchanan declines an invitation to be a summer guest of Georgia resident John King for political reasons.  
    Senator Buchanan proposes to either Mary Kittera Snyder or Ann Kittera; his proposal is accepted.  
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May 10 - The financial panic of 1837 occurs when New York banks cease making specie payments.

    June 5 - Senator Buchanan proposes the creation of a federal "Agency" to replace the US Bank.  
    Sep. 29 - Senator Buchanan makes a speech in support of the Sub-Treasury Bill.  
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Oct. 12 - The Republic of Texas withdraws its request to be annexed by the US.

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Nov. 7 - Elijah Parish Lovejoy is killed by a proslavery mob while defending the site of his anti-slavery newspaper The Saint Louis Observer.

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Dec. 25 - An American force commanded by General Zachary Taylor defeats the Seminole Indians at Okeechobee Swamp, Florida, during the Second Seminole War.

    Dec. 29 - Senator Buchanan delivers a speech favoring the admission of Michigan into the Union.  
1838   Senator Buchanan requests that Henry Muhlenberg and George Wolf withdraw from the race for PA governor, so that a unifying candidate for the Democratic Party might be nominated.  
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Jan. 5 - President Martin Van Buren issues a neutrality proclamation forbidding Americans to take part in the Canadian insurrection.

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Jan. 26 - Tennessee passes the first prohibition law in the US.

    Jan. 29 - Senator Buchanan presents a petition for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia.  
    Apr. 23 - Senator Buchanan speaks in support of a bill to prevent the US Bank from re-issuing and circulating the notes of the old bank under its new PA charter.  
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Apr. 23 - The steamer, Grant Western, arrives in New York from England to begin the first transatlantic steamship service.

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June 12 - Congress establishes the Iowa Territory.

    Nov. - Reverend Robert Henry (brother-in-law of James Buchanan) dies.  
    Nov. - Harriet Buchanan Henry and Jane Buchanan Lane (sisters of James Buchanan), and Jessie Magaw (niece of James Buchanan) struggle with tuberculosis.  
    Nov. - Senator Buchanan becomes trustee of sister Jane Buchanan Lane's inheritance.  
    Nov. - Senator Buchanan faces family opposition to his marriage to Mary Kittera Snyder.  
    Nov. - Senator Buchanan struggles to find a home for his orphan niece, Elizabeth Huston.  
    Nov. - Senator Buchanan purchases the family property, Dunwoodie Farm, because sister Harriet Buchanan Henry is in need of money.  
spacer spacer spacer Dec. 11 - The House of Representatives adopts the Atherton Gag, automatically tabling any petition to discuss slavery.
1839   Jane Buchanan Lane (sister of James Buchanan) dies in Mercersburg, PA.  
    Senator Buchanan proposes William King for vice president.  
spacer spacer spacer Jan. 7 - The Washington Mining Company of North Carolina becomes the first silver mining company in the US.
spacer spacer spacer Jan. 12 - Anthracite coal is used to smelt iron for the first time, in Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania.
    Feb. 14 - Senator Buchanan argues against a Bill to Prevent Interference of Federal Officers with Elections.  
spacer spacer spacer Feb. 20 - Congress passes a law forbidding dueling in the District of Columbia.
    June - Senator Buchanan is honored with a dinner held by Democrats in the PA Legislature.  
spacer spacer spacer Sep. 25 - France becomes the first European nation to recognize the Republic of Texas.
spacer spacer spacer Oct. 7 - Alexander Wolcott takes the first studio photographic portrait in New York.
    Dec. 27 - Senator Buchanan receives an offer from Martin Van Buren to serve as US attorney general.  
    Dec. 28 - Senator Buchanan declines the position of US attorney general in Martin Van Buren's cabinet.  
1840   Harriet Buchanan Henry (sister of James Buchanan) dies; her son, James Buchanan Henry, joins Buchanan's household.  
    Jan. 12 - Senator Buchanan speaks in support of the Independent Treasury.  
    Mar. 3 - Senator Buchanan responds to John Davis's remarks on Buchanan's speech supporting the Independent Treasury.  
    Mar. 6 - Senator Buchanan responds to John Davis's remarks on Buchanan's speech supporting the Independent Treasury.  
spacer spacer spacer Mar. 31 - The US establishes a ten-hour workday for all Federal employees.
    July 4 - Senator Buchanan refuses to attend a Fourth of July celebration held by the Muhlenberg Democrats of Berks County, PA unless PA Governor, David Porter, is also invited.  
    Sep. - Senator Buchanan spends several weeks making campaign speeches in PA.  
1841   Senator Buchanan supports David Porter's reelection as governor of PA.  
    Senator Buchanan votes against the Independent Treasury.  
    Senator Buchanan votes for Henry Clay's Bank Bill.  
    Senator Buchanan votes for a resolution to expunge the expunging resolution.  
    Senator Buchanan votes for the Whig land program.  
spacer spacer spacer Mar. 9 - The Supreme Court issues a ruling freeing the remaining 35 survivors of the Amistad mutiny.
    Apr. 4 - Senator Buchanan begins to look toward the presidential nomination in the 1844 election, and much of his activity from this time forward is aimed at that goal.  
spacer spacer spacer Apr. 4 - William Henry Harrison, 9th President of the US, dies of pneumonia after only 31 days in office.
spacer spacer spacer Apr. 10 - The New York Tribune, edited by Horace Greeley, begins publication.
    Senator Buchanan is attacked in newspapers by supporters of David Porter and by supporters of Commodore Charles Stewart's presidential campaign.  
    May 6 - Senator Buchanan expresses disagreement with a PA bank bill that allows banks to issue paper currency based upon money borrowed by the state.  
    July 7 - Senator Buchanan argues against the bill to establish a new US Bank.  
    July 24 - Senator Buchanan speaks against the Bankrupt Act.  
    Sep. 2 - Senator Buchanan speaks against the bill to create a Fiscal Corporation of the US.  
    Dec. 29 - Senator Buchanan makes a speech against the proposed Exchequer Board.  
1842   Senator Buchanan breaks off his relationship with Anna Payne, niece of Dolly Madison, due to the difference in their ages.  
    Feb. 2 - Senator Buchanan makes a speech in support of the veto power.  
spacer spacer spacer Apr. 2 - The New York Philharmonic Society is established, with Ureli Corelli Hill as its first conductor.
    Apr. 7 - Senator Buchanan speaks against the bill to apply proceeds from public lands to the payment of the public debt.  
spacer spacer spacer Apr. 18 - Dorr’s Rebellion occurs in Rhode Island when voters, disgruntled by property-owning requirements, hold their own elections and elect Thomas W. Dorr as Governor.
spacer spacer spacer Aug. 9 - The US and England sign the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, settling several border matters in eastern Canada .
    Aug. 20 - Senator Buchanan votes against the ratification of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty.  
spacer spacer spacer Sep. 11 - Mexican soldiers capture San Antonio, Texas, pushing the Republic of Texas closer to annexation by the US.
    Dec. 5 - Senator Buchanan is reelected to the US Senate as a Democrat.  
spacer spacer spacer Dec. 7 - The New York Philharmonic Society holds its first concert.
1843   Jan. 8 - Senator Buchanan's supporters hold a convention in Harrisburg, PA to promote Buchanan as presidential nominee for the 1844 election.  
    Senator Buchanan promises Henry Muhlenburg that Lancaster County, PA will support him for governor.  
    Apr. 21 - Senator Buchanan plans to support Martin Van Buren if he is nominated for president by the Democratic Party.  
spacer spacer spacer May 29 - The John C. Fremont Expedition leaves Kansas City to make the first accurate survey of the route to the Oregon Territory.
spacer spacer spacer Jun. 15 - The Republics of Texas and Mexico declare a truce in their hostilities.
    Aug. - Senator Buchanan visits Mary and Harriet Lane (nieces of James Buchanan) in Charlestown, VA, where they are staying with their father's family; he plans to bring Harriet, and possibly Mary, to stay with him in Lancaster, PA.  
spacer spacer spacer Aug. 23 - Mexico warns the US that any attempt to annex Texas will be an act of war.
spacer spacer spacer Oct. 6 - Dr. William T. G. Morton demonstrates the effects of ether at a hospital in Boston.
    Dec. 14 - Senator Buchanan prints an open letter to the Lancaster Intelligencer, withdrawing his name as a Democratic presidential candidate due to "an anxious desire to drive discord from the ranks of the party."  
1844   Apr. - Senator Buchanan is offered a seat on the Supreme Court by John Tyler; he declines.  
spacer spacer spacer Apr. 12 - The US and Texas sign the Texas Annexation Treaty, providing for the admission of Texas as a territory.
    Apr. 22 - Senator Buchanan's supporters urge him to reconsider running for president.  
spacer spacer spacer May 24 - Samuel F. B. Morse dispatches the first telegraphic message over an experimental line from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore.
    May 25 - Senator Buchanan writes to two PA delegates to the Democratic National Convention, informing them that he will only run for president if he does not have to compete with Martin Van Buren.  
    May 27 - Senator Buchanan receives the vote of all PA delegates on the fifth ballot at the Democratic National Convention in Baltimore, Maryland.  
    May 28 - Senator Buchanan learns of James Polk's nomination for president via the first official trial of Samuel Morse's telegraph.  
    June 8 - Senator Buchanan gives a speech in support of the annexation of Texas.  
spacer spacer spacer June 15 - Charles Goodyear is awarded a patent for the vulcanization process to prevent rubber from sticking in warm weather.
spacer spacer spacer June 26 - President John Tyler becomes the first president to marry while in office.
spacer spacer spacer June 27 - Brigham Young becomes head of the Mormon Church after its leader, Joseph Smith, is killed by a mob in Nauvoo, Illinois.
spacer spacer spacer July 3 - The US and China sign the Treaty of Wang Hiya, providing for the opening of five Chinese ports to American merchants.
spacer spacer spacer July 29 - The New York Yacht Club is formed, with John C. Stevens as its first commodore.
spacer spacer spacer Aug. 20 - President Tyler withdraws from the presidential race, becoming the first chief executive not to run for a second term.
    Sep. - Senator Buchanan makes a speaking tour of northern PA.  
    Nov. - Senator Buchanan campaigns hard for James Polk in order to assure his own influence in the next administration.  
1845 spacer spacer Jan. 23 - Congress passes an act establishing a uniform election day for presidential elections.
spacer spacer spacer Jan. 29 - Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven first appears in print.
    Feb. 14 - Senator Buchanan speaks in support of the annexation of Texas.  
    Feb. 17 - Senator Buchanan is invited by James Polk to serve as secretary of state.  
    Feb. 18 - Senator Buchanan accepts the position of secretary of state.  
    Feb. 26 - Senator Buchanan expresses his desire to sit on the Supreme Court.  
    Feb. 27 - Senator Buchanan, in a discussion on the admission of Texas, argues that the Constitution does not exclude foreign states from joining the Union.  
spacer spacer spacer Mar. 3 - Florida becomes the 27th state in the Union.
spacer spacer spacer Mar. 4 - James K. Polk becomes the 11th President of US.
    Mar. 6 - Senator Buchanan's appointment as secretary of state is confirmed by the US Senate.  
spacer spacer spacer Mar. 28 - Mexico breaks off diplomatic relations with the US.