Buchanan was president between 1857 and 1861 and there was no shortage of bad things that happened during his time in office.
They say that disasters such as the Civil War and Great Depression made great presidents out of men like Lincoln and Roosevelt. But as Buchanan shows us, they can also make really awful presidents if they're not dealt with properly.
Here's just a couple examples of the things that most definitely were putting the country on the 'wrong track':
The Utah War: Based on false intelligence, Buchanan sent the Federal Army in to Utah on rumors that the same Brigham Young that James Polk had sent out there a few years ago was planning a rebellion. This was easy to get everyone to buy into because anti Mormonism had been building in Washington over their polygamy. Buchanan was widely reproached when the rumors of rebellion were proven false and this became referred to as 'Buchanan's Blunder'.
You'd think that a man that said it was 'illegal' for the United States to put down a slave holders rebellion in the years leading up to the Civil War would have shown a little more restraint, but I guess it's all about who's causing the rebellion.
I'd make an Iraq War comparison here, but that would be way to easy.
Bank Failures: We think we have it bad, but 1400 Banks and 6000 major businesses failed during Buchanan's presidency. To encourage Americans to tough it out, he gave a speech saying that 10 cents a day was enough for any working man to live on.
This is where he earned the nickname '10 Cents a Day Jimmie'.
Kansas Bleeding: Before the Civil War officially was declared by the South, there were skirmishes in the Kansas and Nebraska territories. Abolitionists moved in and powerful slave interests sent death squads in to attack and harass them so they could make it a slave territory by squatters rights.
Buchanan wasn't convinced that this was worth sending the Army in like the Mormon incident was. As I mentioned before, it's all about who's being harassed and he was clearly in the slave holder's corner.
Filibustering Expeditions: In the name of expanding slavery and profit, wealthy plantation owners would raise private funds to send mercenaries over to unstable areas in Central America and the Caribbean to both have an opportunity to take over those countries from Spain and have a ready supply of slaves and income from the sugar and mining operations already in place there.
These expeditions were almost like Super Halliburtons. They were made up largely of army and sea veterans as well as other desperate men, and they'd not only have access to great wealth if successful, but could also become Kings.
Buchanan did very little to stop this and it only increased the anger of the anti slavery movement in the north, further pushing the country towards war.
The allowed takeover by Southerners of Federal Forts and the traitors in his cabinet that would later join the confederacy are worth another post altogether.
This just goes to show that although it takes extreme times to make a man remembered in history, it doesn't indicate how he'll be remembered.