President Franklin Pierce placed the first Christmas tree in the White House in 1856. Born Nov. 23, 1804, Franklin Pierce, was elected a Congressman at age 29 and a Senator at age 33. Franklin Pierce resigned from Congress during the Mexican-American War and enlisted as a private. He was eventually promoted to brigadier general. Pierce’s leg was crushed at the Battle of Churubusco.
A Northern Democrat, Franklin Pierce ran for president against General Winfield Scott, whom he had served under during the War. Tragically, while campaigning for president, Franklin Pierce’s son, 11-year-old Bennie, was killed when their campaign train rolled off its tracks. Franklin Pierce was elected the 14th U.S. president, serving from 1853-1857.
On the second anniversary of his wife Jane’s death, Franklin Pierce was baptized into the church she had been a member of, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Concord, New Hampshire. Franklin Pierce was friends with the famous American writer Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Franklin Pierce was also friends with Nathaniel Hawthorne, who was with him the night he died.
Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote in a biography of Franklin Pierce: “Whether in sorrow or success he has learned … that religious faith is the most valuable … of human possessions. … With this sense, there has come … a wide sympathy for the modes of Christian worship and a reverence for religious belief as a matter between the Deity and man’s soul.”
President Franklin Pierce said in his inaugural, March 4, 1853: “It must be felt that there is no national security but in the nation’s humble, acknowledged dependence upon God and His overruling Providence.”
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) was an American author and poet. He became famous through his novel, “The Scarlet Letter,” published in 1850.
Hawthorne’s contemporaries included: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Edgar Alan Poe, and Herman Melville.
Melville read Hawthorne’s short story collection “Mosses from an Old Manse” and praised it in a famous review, “Hawthorne and His Mosses.” Melville dedicated his book, “Moby Dick,” to Hawthorne “in appreciation for his genius.”
Nathaniel and his wife Sophia had three children: Una, Julian and Rose. Rose, after her husband’s death, became a nun, and founded the religious order Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne to care for victims of incurable cancer.
Hawthorne’s short tales were published as collections in “Twice-Told Tales” (1837) and “Mosses from an Old Manse (1850),” with some of the more popular ones being:
- “My Kinsman, Major Molineux” (1832)
- “The Maypole of Merrymount” (1832)
- “Young Goodman Brown” (1835)
- “The Minister’s Black Veil” (1836)
- “The Birth-Mark” (1843)
- “Rappaccini’s Daughter” (1844)
- “Ethan Brand” (1850)
- “Tanglewood Tales” (1853)
Hawthorne’s major romance works were:
- The Scarlet Letter (1950)
- The House of Seven Gables (1851)
- Blithedale Romance (1852)
- The Marble Faun (1860)
In his poem, “The Star of Calvary,” Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote:
It is the same infrequent star,
The all mysterious light,
That, like a watcher gazing on
The changes of the night,
Toward the hill of Bethlehem, took
Its solitary flight.
It is the same infrequent star;
Its sameness startleth me;
Although the disk is red a-blood
And downward silently
It looketh on another hill,
The hill of Calvary.
Behold, O Israel! behold!
It is no human One
That ye have dared to crucify.
What evil hath he done?
It is your King, O Israel,
The God-begotten Son!
In “Ethan Brand,” written in 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote: “‘What is the Unpardonable Sin?’ asked the lime-burner. … ‘It is a sin that grew within my own breast,” replied Ethan Brand. … ‘The sin of an intellect that triumphed over the sense of brotherhood with man and reverence for God.’”
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