Timeline
 
 

1845-1849: Secretary of State

 
1845 Mar. 3 - Florida becomes the 27th state in the Union.
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.  
Mar. 28 - Mexico breaks off diplomatic relations with the US.
    Mar. 28 - Secretary Buchanan informs William Parrott that he has been selected to serve as a secret agent to Mexico.  
    Secretary Buchanan appoints Anthony Ten Eyck commissioner to Hawaii.  
May 3 - Macon B. Allen of Massachusetts becomes the first African-American lawyer admitted to the bar.
    June 3 - Secretary Buchanan instructs the American chargé d’affaires in Texas to “avoid even the least appearance of interference with the free action of the people of Texas on the question of annexation."  
June 8 - Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the US, dies in Tennessee.
    Aug. 7 - Secretary Buchanan is informed by James Polk and George Bancroft that Mexican troops are moving toward the Texas border.  
    Aug. 30 - Secretary Buchanan submits to Lord Richard Pakenham, the British ambassador, a claim for US rights to all of the Oregon Territory.  
    Sep. 7 - Secretary Buchanan recommends the Slidell mission to Mexico.  
    Sep. 17 - Secretary Buchanan asks the US consul to Mexico to determine whether Mexico is prepared to resume official diplomatic relations with the US.  
Sep. 24 - The Knickerbocker Club in New York City organizes and codifies baseball.
    Sep. - Secretary Buchanan asks James Polk for a seat on the Supreme Court.  
Oct. 10 - The US Naval Academy at Fort Severn, Annapolis, Maryland, opens.
    Nov. 10 - Secretary Buchanan provides John Slidell with instructions for his mission to Mexico.  
    Nov. 19 - Secretary Buchanan withdraws his request for a seat on the Supreme Court.  
    Dec. 13 - Secretary Buchanan expresses regret that he was not appointed to fill the recent vacancy on the Supreme Court.  
    Dec. 25 - Secretary Buchanan informs James Polk that he objects to the appointment of George Woodward to the Supreme Court.  
    Dec. 27 - Secretary Buchanan and Lord Richard Pakenham meet to discuss the Oregon Territory.  
Dec. 29 - Texas becomes the 28th state in the Union.
 
1846   Secretary Buchanan concludes a treaty with New Granada.  
    Secretary Buchanan sends his niece, Harriet Lane, to the Convent School in Georgetown.  
Jan. 4 - General Mariano Paredes becomes the President of Mexico, announcing he will defend all territory he considers Mexico’s.
    Jan. 20 - Secretary Buchanan officially provides John Slidell with his commission as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the US to the Mexican Republic.  
    Jan. 22 - Secretary Buchanan is recommended for the Supreme Court by James Shields.  
    Jan. 23 - Secretary Buchanan is recommended for the Supreme Court by Thomas Hart Benton.  
    Jan. 24 - Secretary Buchanan holds a ball at Carusi’s Saloon.  
    Jan. 28 - Secretary Buchanan is accused by David Wilmot of arranging for the rejection of George Woodward’s Supreme Court appointment.  
    Feb. 21 - Secretary Buchanan is informed that Great Britain's foreign minister has approved the use of force to settle the Oregon Territory boundary.  
    Mar. 11 - Secretary Buchanan makes arrangements to send US cotton experts to teach cotton cultivation in Constantinople.  
    Mar. 12 - Secretary Buchanan gives John Slidell permission to offer financial relief to General Mariano Paredes in return for a settlement of the US and Mexico borders.  
Apr. 13 - The Pennsylvania Railroad is founded.
Apr. 24 - Mexican forces attack American troops in the first military action of the Mexican War.
    May - Secretary Buchanan recommends to James Polk that Catholic chaplains be provided in the military.  
May 4 - The Michigan Legislature becomes the first in the US to ban capital punishment.
May 13 - Congress authorizes $10 million for the recruitment of 50,000 soldiers to serve in the Mexican War.
    June 6 - Secretary Buchanan is presented with a proposal by Lord Richard Pakenham regarding the division of the Oregon Territory.  
June 14 - A group of settlers proclaim California a republic during the Bear Flag Revolt.
June 15 - The US and England sign the Oregon Treaty, establishing the 49 th parallel as the boundary between the US and western Canada.
June 19 - The first recorded baseball game is won by the New York Club, beating the Knickerbockers 23-1 at Elysian Field in Hoboken , New Jersey .
    June 28 - Secretary Buchanan again asks for a Supreme Court appointment, but later decides against it after concluding that it might hurt his chances for the presidential nomination in 1848.  
July 7 - American Commodore John Sloat lands at Monterey and claims possession of California for the US.
    July 27 - Secretary Buchanan invites the Mexican foreign minister to peace negotiations.  
Aug. 17 - Commodore Stockton declares that the US has annexed California.
Sep. 10 - Elias Howe is awarded a patent for his eye-pointed needle sewing machine.
Dec. 28 - Iowa becomes the 29th state in the Union.
Dec. 29 - American forces commanded by General Zachary Taylor occupy Victoria, Mexico, during the Mexican War.
       
1847   Secretary Buchanan supports Francis Shunk for reelection in the race for PA governor  
    Secretary Buchanan arranges for W. Hutter to purchase the Lancaster Intelligencer.  
Jan. 10 - General Kearney takes Los Angeles, ending hostilities in California, during the Mexican War.
Mar. 3 - Congress approves the use of adhesive postage stamps.
    Mar. 4 - Secretary Buchanan and George Dallas are awarded equal recognition by delegates to the Harrisburg Democratic Convention, following a stalemate to select one or the other as PA’s “favorite son.”  
Mar. 9 - In the first major amphibious operation undertaken by US forces, General Winfield Scott lands 10,000 troops near Vera Cruz, Mexico, during the Mexican War.
    Apr. 13 - Secretary Buchanan makes a proposal to the president's cabinet for terms of peace with Mexico.  
    Apr. 15 - Secretary Buchanan dispatches Nicholas Trist as a peace commissioner to negotiate with Mexico.  
May 1 - The Smithsonian Institution officially opens in Washington, D.C.
May 5 - The American Medical Association is founded.
June 22 - Hanson Crockett Gregory invents the doughnut.
July 1 - The US Post Office issues its first stamps, a five-cent stamp honoring Benjamin Franklin and a ten-cent stamp honoring George Washington.
July 24 - Completing a treacherous thousand-mile exodus, Brigham Young and fellow members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints arrive in Utah's Great Salt Lake Valley.
July 26 - Joseph Jenkins Roberts declares Liberia, formerly a colony of the American Colonization Society, an independent republic.
Aug. 20 - American forces commanded by General Winfield Scott defeat the Mexicans at Churubusco, Mexico, during the Mexican War.
    Aug. 25 - Secretary Buchanan writes his “Berks County letter,” in which he voices his opinion on slavery to Democrats in Reading, PA.  
    Oct. 6 - Secretary Buchanan attempts to recall Nicholas Trist from Mexico.  
Dec. 6 - Abraham Lincoln of Illinois takes his seat in the House of Representatives.
    Dec. 25 - Secretary Buchanan begins giving a series of dinners in order to strengthen his bid for the 1848 presidential nomination.  
       
1848   Mary Elizabeth Speer Lane (niece of James Buchanan) marries George Baker.  
    James B. Lane (nephew of James Buchanan) runs a mercantile business in Lancaster, PA.  
Jan. 24 - Gold is discovered on land owned by John Sutter, setting off the California gold rush.
Jan. 31 - Major John C. Frémont is court-martialed on grounds of mutiny and disobeying orders.
Feb. 2 - The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is signed in Mexico City, ending the Mexican War and extending the boundaries of the US west to the Pacific Ocean.
Feb. 23 - John Quincy Adams, 6 th President of the US, dies in the House of Representatives in Washington D.C.
    Mar. 4 - Secretary Buchanan wins a majority of the delegates from PA to the Democratic National Convention.  
    Mar. 27 - Secretary Buchanan declares that he is not responsible for alleged State Department leaks regarding negotiations with Mexico; he offers the US Senate the opportunity to examine any member of the State Department under oath.  
May 29 - Wisconsin becomes the 30th state in the Union.
    June 3 - Secretary Buchanan instructs the chargé d’affaires to Guatemala to encourage the formation of a Central American federation to defend against European colonization.  
June 3 - The US and New Grenada sign the Treaty of New Grenada, providing the US with a right of way across the Isthmus of Panama.
    June 12 - Secretary Buchanan informs William Meredith of his interest in purchasing the Wheatland estate in Lancaster, PA.  
June 22 - A progressive faction of the Democratic party called the Barnburners withdraws from the national convention in Baltimore.
    July 9 - Secretary Buchanan is encouraged by PA Democrats to run for governor; he declines.  
July 19 - The first Woman's Rights Convention opens in Seneca Falls, New York.
    Dec. - Secretary Buchanan and William Meredith finalize the sale of Wheatland.  
 
1849 Mar. 3 - Congress establishes the Minnesota Territory.
  Mar. 3 - The Department of the Interior is created by act of Congress.
    Mar. 4 - Secretary Buchanan finishes his term on James Polk’s Cabinet; expresses his relief to be leaving the State Department.  
  Mar. 5 - Zachary Taylor becomes the 12th President of US.
  Mar. 10 - The Missouri Legislature rules that the right to prohibit slavery in any territory belongs to the people.
  Apr. 10 - Walter Hunt is awarded a patent for the safety pin
    Secretary Buchanan develops a tumor in his nose toward the end of his term as secretary of state; surgeons spend more than a year removing it.  
  May - James Buchanan takes up residence at his Lancaster, PA estate, Wheatland; his niece, Harriet Lane, becomes hostess for all of Buchanan’s social activities.