1853-1856: Minister to England

1853   James Buchanan becomes president of the board of trustees of Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA.  
Mar. 3 - Congress authorizes a survey to find the most practical route for a transcontinental railway.
Mar. 4 - Franklin Pierce is sworn in as the 14th US President.  
  Mar. 30 - James Buchanan is invited by Franklin Pierce to serve as minister to Great Britain.
    Apr. 11 - James Buchanan's appointment as minister to Great Britain is confirmed by the US Senate.  
May 20 - Harriet Tubman initiates the Underground Railroad.
    June 14 - James Buchanan requests confirmation from Franklin Pierce that the mission to Great Britain will include the negotiation of major issues pending with that nation.  
    June 23 - James Buchanan informs Franklin Pierce that he declines the mission to Great Britain.  
    June 26 - James Buchanan is informed by Franklin Pierce that it would be an embarrassment for Buchanan to decline the mission to Great Britain.  
    July 7 - James Buchanan receives instructions for the mission to Great Britain.  
    July 13 - James Buchanan and Franklin Pierce meet in Philadelphia; Buchanan agrees to accept the mission to Great Britain.  
    Aug. 3 - Minister Buchanan leaves for New York.  
    Aug. 17 - Minister Buchanan arrives in Liverpool, England.  
    Aug. 23 - Minister Buchanan presents his letter of credence to Queen Victoria.  
Sep. 15 - The first national librarian's convention is held in New York.
Sep. 16 - Henry E. Steinway sells his first American-made piano.
    Sep. 22 - Minister Buchanan has his first meeting with Lord Clarendon, British foreign secretary.  
Dec. 30 - The US and Mexico sign the Gadsden Purchase, with the US acquiring almost 30,000 square miles of territory in southern Arizona and New Mexico.
1854   Jan. 6 - Minister Buchanan provides Lord Clarendon with a statement regarding the US position on the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty.  
    Feb. - Minister Buchanan is criticized in London papers for refusing to wear elaborate court dress.  
    Mar. 16 - Minister Buchanan objects to forming a treaty between Great Britain, France, and the US to treat the sailors of neutral states as pirates if sailing on the ship of a belligerent.
Mar. 31 - The US and Japan sign the Treaty of Kanagawa, opening some Japanese ports to trade.
    Harriet Lane (niece of James Buchanan) joins Minister Buchanan in London.  
May 30 - President Pierce signs the Kansas-Nebraska Act, creating two new territories and allowing settlers to decide whether they will enter the Union as free or slave states.
June 5 - The US and Canada sign the Canadian Reciprocity Treaty, opening trade in agricultural products and giving American fishermen rights on the Great Lakes.
June 29 - Andrew Reeder is appointed the first territorial Governor of Kansas.
    July - Minister Buchanan sends his secretary of legation to Washington, DC to provide news of the Spanish Revolution and to encourage action to acquire Cuba.  
July 6 - The Republican Party is formed in Jackson, Michigan.
    July 22 - Minister Buchanan provides Lord Clarendon with a historical account of the differences of opinion between Great Britain and the US regarding the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty.  
Aug. 3 - Congress passes the Graduation Act, providing for the disposal of public lands that remain unsold for 20-30 years.
Aug. 9 - Henry David Thoreau publishes Walden.
    Oct. - Minister Buchanan’s supporters encourage him to run for president.  
    Oct. 18 - Minister Buchanan, John Y. Mason and Pieree Soulé sign the Ostend Manifesto.  
Dec. 30 - The Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company of New Haven, Connecticut, becomes the first oil company in the US.
1855   Mary Lane Baker (niece of James Buchanan) dies in San Francisco.  
    Jan. - Minister Buchanan informs his “confidential friends” that he is willing to be considered for president.  
Feb. 10 - US citizenship laws are amended to provide citizenship to all children of American parents who were born outside the US.
Feb. 24 - President Pierce signs an act creating the first US Court of Claims.
Mar. 30 - Armed violence mars the Kansas Territory’s first election, with a pro-slavery legislature being voted in.
    Apr. - Minister Buchanan requests that he be recalled so he can leave England on August 23.  
    July - Minister Buchanan meets with Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman.  
    July - Minister Buchanan is honored with the degree of Doctor of Civil Law at Oxford University.  
    July 6 - Minister Buchanan lodges a complaint with Lord Clarendon regarding British officials recruiting for the British army on US soil.  
    Harriet Lane (niece of James Buchanan) returns to the US.  
    Minister Buchanan learns that niece Mary Baker has died in California.  
Oct. 17 - The first conference of rabbis in the US meets in Cleveland, Ohio.
Oct. 23 - The Kansas Free State sets up the Topeka Constitution, outlawing slavery in the territory and providing Kansas with two competing governments.
    Nov. 5 - Minister Buchanan receives his letter of recall as minister to Great Britain.  
    Nov. 7 - Minister Buchanan informs the secretary of state that he has received his recall, but that he would consider it inappropriate to leave now that tensions are high between the US and Great Britain.  
Nov. 10 - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Song of Hiawatha" is published.
Nov. 26 - Fifteen hundred pro-slavery Border Ruffians threaten Lawrence, Kansas in the Wakarusa War.
    Dec. 14 - Minister Buchanan informs the secretary of state that tensions between the US and Great Britain have eased.  
    Dec. 25 - James Buchanan Henry (nephew of James Buchanan) joins Minister Buchanan in London.  
1856   Elliott Eskridge Lane (nephew of James Buchanan) dies.  
    Feb. - Minister Buchanan learns that George Dallas will replace him as Minister to England.  
Feb. 22 - The Republican Party holds its first national meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
    Mar. 4 - Minister Buchanan receives unanimous support for the presidential nomination from delegates to the Harrisburg Convention.  
    Mar. 15 - Minister Buchanan takes leave of Queen Victoria.  
Apr. 4 - The Western Union Telegraph Company is founded by Ezra Cornell.
    Apr. 9 - James Buchanan leaves England for New York City on the Arago.  
Apr. 21 - The first railroad bridge over the Mississippi River opens between Rock Island, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa.
    Apr. 24 - James Buchanan arrives in New York City; he receives visitors at the Astor House and has dinner with the mayor and friends.  
    May - James Buchanan gives a speech in Baltimore on his way to Washington, DC to report on the mission to England.  
May 21 - Pro-slavery forces capture and loot Lawrence, Kansas. 
May 22 - Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina severely beats Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts at his Capitol Hill office in a dispute over the slavery issue.
May 24 - Abolitionist John Brown kills five pro-slavery Kansans in retaliation for the sacking of Lawrence, Kansas.