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Buchanan, James

James Buchanan was 23 when he entered the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1814. As a Federalist, he opposed the United States’ recent declaration of war against Great Britain. He believed, however, that “it was the duty of every patriot to defend the country while the war was raging against a foreign enemy.” After Washington was captured by the British, he urged his countrymen to volunteer in the defense of Baltimore. Buchanan was one of the first to enroll, and on August 25th, 1814, he joined Judge Shippen’s cavalrymen, a local militia company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They rode to Baltimore to aid in the battle against the advancing British forces. Buchanan was one of ten men who volunteered for a secret mission—a raid to round up additional horses for mounted militia units. After the British were driven from Baltimore, Buchanan’s company was dismissed. Buchanan later served as a Congressman, Senator, Secretary of State, and Minister to Russia and Great Britain. He became the 15th president of the United States in 1856.