The Franklin County Visitors Bureau recognizes James Buchanan & Harriet Lane on President’s Day

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The fifteenth president of the United States, James Buchanan and his niece Harriet Lane, were Franklin County natives and are honored on President's Day.

James Buchanan was born nearby at Stony Batter Park. His niece, Harriet Lane Johnston commissioned a memorial for him near the site.

The 600-ton stone memorial for James Buchanan built at Stony Batter Park.

To date, Buchanan remains the only president from Pennsylvania and the only president to remain a life-long bachelor...Harriet Lane Johnston, Buchanan’s niece... served as the First Lady of the White House during her uncle's presidency."

On President’s Day, The Franklin County Visitors Bureau recognizes the achievements of locally born President James Buchanan and his niece, Harriet Lane Johnston, who served as First Lady.

Buchanan, the fifteenth president of the United States was born in a log cabin in 1791 just two and a half miles west of Mercersburg at Stony Batter, a trading post operated by his father. At five, Buchanan moved to Mercersburg and his family operated a general store in the building that is today the James Buchanan Pub & Restaurant.

His legacy lives on as the name of a high school and elementary school in the Mercersburg area.

To date, Buchanan remains the only president from Pennsylvania and the only president to remain a life-long bachelor. Across the street from his home in Mercersburg, is the home of Harriet Lane Johnston, Buchanan’s niece, who served as the First Lady of the White House during her uncle’s presidency.

Harriet Lane’s family was from Franklin County and when she lost her mother and father, Buchanan was appointed her legal guardian at age 11. After being enrolled in boarding schools, she joined him in London, where Buchanan was minister to the Court of St. James. Lane was given “dear Miss Lane” the rank of ambassador’s wife.

Lane was a popular hostess and women copies her hair and clothing styles. She used her position to promote social causes, such as improving the living conditions of Native Americans and promoted the arts, inviting artists and musicians to White House functions.

Unfortunately, both her husband and young sons passed away before Lane and in their loving memory, she provided money for a school to be built on the grounds of the Washington national Cathedral property. In 1909, the St. Albans School opened with this money.

She also bequeathed a sizable art collection to the government and money to endow a home for invalid children at the John Hopkins Hospital and the Harriet Lane Outpatient Clinics serve thousands today.

Visitors to Franklin County can see the cabin of Buchanan’s birth at Mercersburg Academy on Seminary Street in Mercersburg and visit a 600-ton stone pyramid monument at Stony Batter State Park.

Buchanan’s Birthplace State Park, an 18.5 acre park in Tuscarora Mountain in Franklin County, includes a memorial to the president as well as pavilions, Buck Run and the Tuscarora Trail, which serves as a bypass to the Appalachian Trail.

The Franklin County Visitors Bureau invites all to explore Franklin County PA and enjoy the history, arts, recreation, natural beauty, fresh foods and warm hospitality of communities like Chambersburg, Greencastle, Mercersburg, Shippensburg, and Waynesboro. Franklin County PA is located just north of the Mason Dixon Line and an easy drive to Washington DC, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. Discover more….plan your visit at ExploreFranklinCountyPA.com , by contacting 866.646.8060 or by paging through the online visitors guide.

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Janet Pollard

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