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Jane Pierce

Jane Pierce

Jane Pierce (1806-63) was an American first lady (1853-1857) and the wife of Franklin Pierce, the 14th president of the United States. Although Franklin Pierce was candid about his political ambitions and was already a rising member of Congress when they married, Jane intensely disliked the role of political wife and eventually encouraged her husband to retire from public life. However, when Franklin was elected president in 1852, she reluctantly agreed to accompany him to the White House. The tragic death of their sole surviving son in a horrific accident just before Franklin’s inauguration cast a further pall on the the couple, and Jane spent the majority of her time as first lady in seclusion, enlisting friends and family to play the role of White House hostess.

Jane Means Appleton was born on March 12, 1806, in Hampton, New Hampshire, the third of Elizabeth Means and Jesse Appleton’s six children. A Congregational minister and the president of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, Mr. Appleton was able to provide his family with a comfortable lifestyle. Young Elizabeth received a solid education, with literature and music among her favorite subjects. Yet, even as a child she displayed the physical frailties and nervous disposition that would mark her adult years.

Jane met Pierce through her brother-in-law Alpheus S. Packard, who had taught the budding lawyer as a professor at Bowdoin College. Finding Jane to be delicate and charming, the future U.S. president won her affections despite her lack of enthusiasm for his political interests. He also managed to overcome the disapproval of Mrs. Appleton, who felt her daughter should wed someone from a higher social standing. Jane married her sweetheart at the then-relatively old age of 28 on November 19, 1834, in Amherst, New Hampshire.

Jane was happiest as an adult after her husband returned from the Mexican War in late 1847. Having settled in the New Hampshire town of Concord, she doted on her young son, Benjamin, as Pierce built his legal practice and immersed himself in regional politics. The good times ended when Pierce was named the Democratic nominee for President in 1852, news that reportedly caused Jane to faint. A few weeks after Pierce won the election, as the first-lady-to-be was steeling herself for the move back to Washington, she endured the crushing blow of witnessing 11-year-old Benjamin die in a train accident.

Jane did not attend Pierce’s 1853 inauguration, and it took nearly two years for her to participate in a reception alongside her husband at the White House. But although she did not fulfill many of her hosting obligations as first lady, she was not completely detached from politics. A staunch abolitionist, Jane helped secure the release of Free-State leader Charles Robinson from a Kansas military camp. Her views inflamed tensions with her husband, who was morally opposed to slavery but believed the preservation of the Union took precedence.

After the Pierces left the White House in 1857, they sailed to the Caribbean and then to Europe. However, their departure from Washington did little to improve Jane’s spirits and health. Chronically depressed and stricken with tuberculosis, she spent much of her final years with her sister Mary Aiken in Andover, Massachusetts. After her death on December 2, 1863, she was laid to rest alongside her sons at Old North Cemetery in Concord.


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Jane Pierce - HISTORY

Jane Means Appleton Pierce

In looks and in pathetic destiny young Jane Means Appleton resembled the heroine of a Victorian novel. The gentle dignity of her face reflected her sensitive, retiring personality and physical weakness. Her father had died--he was a Congregational minister, the Reverend Jesse Appleton, president of Bowdoin College--and her mother had taken the family to Amherst, New Hampshire. And Jane met a Bowdoin graduate, a young lawyer with political ambitions, Franklin Pierce.

Although he was immediately devoted to Jane, they did not marry until she was 28 -- surprising in that day of early marriages. Her family opposed the match moreover, she always did her best to discourage his interest in politics. The death of a three-day-old son, the arrival of a new baby, and Jane's dislike of Washington counted heavily in his decision to retire at the apparent height of his career, as United States Senator, in 1842. Little Frank Robert, the second son, died the next year of typhus.

Service in the Mexican War brought Pierce the rank of brigadier and local fame as a hero. He returned home safely, and for four years the Pierces lived quietly at Concord, New Hampshire, in the happiest period of their lives. With attentive pleasure Jane watched her son Benjamin growing up.

Then, in 1852, the Democratic Party made Pierce their candidate for President. His wife fainted at the news. When he took her to Newport for a respite, Benny wrote to her: "I hope he won't be elected for I should not like to be at Washington and I know you would not either." But the President-elect convinced Jane that his office would be an asset for Benny's success in life.

On a journey by train, January 6, 1853, their car was derailed and Benny killed before their eyes. The whole nation shared the parents' grief. The inauguration on March 4 took place without an inaugural ball and without the presence of Mrs. Pierce. She joined her husband later that month, but any pleasure the White House might have brought her was gone. From this loss she never recovered fully. Other events deepened the somber mood of the new administration: Mrs. Fillmore's death in March, that of Vice President Rufus King in April.

Always devout, Jane Pierce turned for solace to prayer. She had to force herself to meet the social obligations inherent in the role of First Lady. Fortunately she had the companionship and help of a girlhood friend, now her aunt by marriage, Abigail Kent Means. Mrs. Robert E. Lee wrote in a private letter: "I have known many of the ladies of the White House, none more truly excellent than the afflicted wife of President Pierce. Her health was a bar to any great effort on her part to meet the expectations of the public in her high position but she was a refined, extremely religious and well educated lady."

With retirement, the Pierces made a prolonged trip abroad in search of health for the invalid--she carried Benny's Bible throughout the journey. The quest was unsuccessful, so the couple came home to New Hampshire to be near family and friends until Jane's death in 1863. She was buried near Benny's grave.


The Tale of Two First Ladies. Eleanor Roosevelt and Jane Pierce

Well, maybe not. While Eleanor Roosevelt would have been more than comfortable walking into a bar (or a coal mine) and talking with whomever she met, Jane Pierce probably would have preferred to spend her time in isolation. Which, during her first two years as first lady, she did.

A portrait of Jane Pierce.

It comes as no surprise that Eleanor Roosevelt takes the top spot in a recent ranking of first ladies . She always has. The ranking, based on a survey of historians, scholars and political scientists, has been conducted five times in the past 31 years. It evaluates first ladies based on 10 criteria: background value to the country being the White House steward courage accomplishments integrity leadership being her own woman public image and value to the president.

Jane Pierce, wife of 14th president Franklin Pierce, comes in last.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a sentient American adult who isn’t aware of Eleanor Roosevelt and the multitude of reasons she is considered the best first lady. But most people don’t know much - or perhaps anything - about Jane Pierce, and why history does not look kindly on her.

Jane Pierce did not attend her husband’s inauguration in March 1853, nor did she preside over any inaugural balls, because there were none. Franklin Pierce moved into the White House directly following his swearing-in, but his wife took more than two weeks to join him there, and would inhabit the place almost like a ghost for the four years of his administration. The author Nathaniel Hawthorne, a close friend of Franklin Pierce, once referred to her as “that death head in the White House.”

And no wonder. By the time she became first lady, a week before her 47th birthday, Jane Pierce had lived through the deaths of all three of her sons. The first, Franklin Jr., died three days after birth in 1836. The second, Frank Robert, died of typhus in 1843 at age four. The loss of her third son, eleven-year-old Benjamin, was perhaps the most devastating. Born in 1841, “Benny” was just two years old when Frank Robert died, and became the sole focus of his doting mother. In January 1853, after Franklin Pierce’s election but before his inauguration, the family was involved in a train accident while traveling to Washington from Boston. Benny’s head was crushed and partially severed in the crash, and he died on the spot, his parents as witnesses.

Deeply religious, Jane Pierce hated politics and had prayed that her husband would lose the election, a sentiment apparently shared by Benny. Now, on the verge of becoming first lady, she believed God had taken her child because he would have been a distraction in the White House. When she finally joined the new president in Washington, she retreated to the upper rooms of the executive mansion and shirked all duties usually required of the first lady, spending her time instead writing sorrowful letters to Benny . She had the White House decorated in the black bunting of mourning. Her health, always uncertain, continued to suffer. Historian Richard Norton Smith calls her “the most tragic of the first ladies.”

Jane Pierce with her son Benjamin.

Quiet in the White House

Washington has always been a social town and the position of first lady has always been primarily a social role. To some extent, the political (albeit indirect) contributions of many of the first ladies have come through their prowess as hostesses, through which they have created the social settings that allowed for political relationships and agreements to flourish. Franklin Pierce took office at a time when such agreements were sorely needed - on the eve of the civil war, the country was deeply divided over slavery - but Jane made no public appearances for the first two years of the administration.

Eventually, she came around… kind of. She attended a reception on New Year’s Day 1855, her first public appearance, and sporadically served as hostess for the remainder of her husband’s term. But when she did, she usually wore black and had “a sad, distracted look.”

Like Calvin and Grace Coolidge, Franklin and Jane Pierce were a classic case of opposites attract. It has been speculated that “Silent Cal,” famously dour and taciturn, may have achieved the presidency in part because of Grace, who had such an ebullient personality she was nicknamed “Sunshine” by the White House staff. Similarly, the outgoing Franklin and the withdrawn Jane were a seeming mismatch. And while they were purportedly devoted to each other, Jane may have done as much to hurt her husband’s presidency as Grace did to help hers.

Or maybe Franklin Pierce did enough damage on his own. Regarded by historians as one of the worst presidents in history, Pierce pursued policies that likely perpetuated the breakdown of the union and led to war. Though he had been elected in a landslide, he failed even to win the nomination of his party for a second term.

And therein lies a kind of conundrum regarding the first ladies ranking. To a certain extent, the reputation of the president’s wife will always be inextricably tied to that of her husband. Before you compare Jane Pierce to Eleanor Roosevelt, compare the abysmal presidency of Franklin Pierce to that of Franklin Roosevelt, a four-term president who led the country through World War II, died in office a hero and is still remembered as one of the best presidents in U.S. history (In C-SPAN’s 2009 Historians Presidential Leadership Survey , Roosevelt is ranked third from the top, and Pierce third from the bottom).

Of course, Eleanor Roosevelt was a great first lady in her own right. Her contributions to human rights, to international relations and to the role of first lady remain unmatched, and her work continued even after she left the White House. She is one of the most admired women in American history. But how would we regard her today if she had come into the White House grieving the loss of a child, or if her husband had been a failure?

Tell us what you think. Do you have a favorite first lady? Share your thoughts below…

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First Lady Jane Means Appleton Pierce

Jane Pierce with her last surviving son, Benjamin Pierce. The child died in 1853 in a train crash, two months before his father was sworn into office as President.

A forgotten person today, Jane Pierce was a sad and depressed woman who had to lead a life in politics that she hated. Her tenure as First Lady was a trial for her.

The melancholy, shadow-like Jane Pierce despised politics and did not enjoy her life in Washington. The accidental death of her son Benny, just two months before her husband was inaugurated, was too much for her to bear. Her health suffered and she died six years after Pierce took office.

Early Years of Mrs. Pierce

Jane Means Appleton Pierce was born in Hampton, New Hampshire, on March 12, 1806, the daughter of wealthy parents. Her father, a Congregational minister and later a President of Bowdoin College, was apparently a religious zealot, and followed a sacrificial fast that killed him. His strict religious beliefs were absorbed by his daughter and had a distinct effect on her viewpoint of life.

Marriage to Franklin Pierce

Jane and Franklin were married in Amherst, New Hampshire, on November 10,1834, and had three children: Franklin (1836), Frank (1839-1843) and Benjamin, who was born in 1841 and was accidentally killed in 1853. This event was the undoing of Jane, and she truly never recovered. Franklin Pierce had held office in the House of Representatives in Washington, and was made a United States senator in the 1837. At Jane’s urging, he gave up the senate before his term was up and they returned to New Hampshire.

Political Life

After relinquishing his senate seat, at Jane’s insistence, Franklin agreed to give up politics. However, unknown to his wife, Pierce kept abreast of the political scene and let it be known that he was available. When the Democratic Party appealed to him to run for the presidency, he agreed and was inaugurated in 1853.

Life in the White House

For the first two years of Franklin’s term, Jane remained in an upstairs room in the mansion, not taking on any of the duties of a President’s wife. Her first public appearance was at a New Year’s Day reception in 1855. Until that time the official hostess duties were fulfilled by her aunt, Abby Kent Means, and her friend Varina Davis, wife of Secretary of War Jefferson Davis.

Health of Jane Pierce

Jane’s melancholy outlook undoubtedly contributed to her failing health. After Benny’s death, she became a recluse, writing letters to him daily and thinking about nothing else. When she finally worked her way back into public life she was frail and unable to carry out all her duties. On December 2, 1863, Jane died of tuberculosis and was buried in the Old North Cemetery in Concord, New Hampshire.


First Ladies & The Occult: Seances and Spiritualists, Part 1

The White House telephone operators are legendary for their ability to reach anyone in the world, no matter how remotely out of touch they may be.

A number of First Ladies, however, have seemed to do even better with their ability to reach those out of this world and in that mystical realm which is so much a part of the ghoulish pranks and traditional celebration of Halloween.

Mamie Eisenhower had the State Dining Room decorated with paper Fifties Halloween decorations for a 1956 autumn luncheon. (Eisenhower Library)

Halloween was not celebrated as a fun holiday at the White House until First Lady Mamie Eisenhower hosted a 1950s luncheon and had the state floor reception rooms decorated with paper and cardboard witches, black cats and skeletons, corn stalks and pumpkins.

An entire century before that, however, there were tales of ghosts rising in spirit form, beckoned by the bells, horns, rapping, letters, prayers, dreams and beseeching hysterics of several First Ladies.

It is perhaps unsurprising that it was during the Victorian Age, when a societal preoccupation with death and mourning took root and questionable methods arose to provide the inconsolable with methods to contact dead loved ones on the “the other side.”

None who lived in the White House were as obsessed with thoughts of a morbid nature than was Jane Pierce.

Jane Pierce in later years, perpetually wore black mourning clothes. (NH Historical Society)

From an early age her letters to family members fixate on illness, debility and death. When her two youngest sons died, a morose pall settled on her, but she lived in a permanent state of depression after the horrific death of her eleven-year old son Bennie. The trauma occurred after her husband Franklin Pierce was elected President in November of 1852 but before his March 1853 Inauguration.

The boy and his parents were traveling a short distance by train in Massachusetts, when their rail car overturned into an embankment.

An English railroad derailment into an embankment, like the January 1853 one which killed Bennie Pierce. (wikipedia)

All the passengers were thrown from their seats but metal and wood smashed the skull of the president-elect’s son,, killing him instantly.

Mrs. Pierce briefly glimpsed her dead son in this condition, a sight which haunted her thoughts as long as she lived.

Beyond the grief of personal loss, however, Bennie Pierce’s death left his mother overwhelmed with guilt.

Nothing distracted Jane Pierce from a determination to contact her dead son and convey the depth of her love and beg his forgiveness for withholding the fullest measure of it when he was alive.

Benny Pierce and his mother. (NH Historical Society)

The First Lady’s initial effort to contact Bennie seemed to be a psychological beckoning in the form of one long, emotionally wrought letter to him, composed in January of 1853, asking him to come to her so she could further explain her failings as a mother.

She then invited the famous young spiritualists of the era, the Fox sisters, to hold a White House séance so she could reach Bennie.

Jane Pierce and the famous spiritualist duo, the Fox sisters.(LC Missouri History Museum)

Whether it was her letter or the séance, Mrs. Pierce did find relief. She would soon report to her sister that her dead son came to her in two successive nights of dreams.

Jane Pierce shared the grim experience of losing a young child to death with the very next presidential wife, Mary Lincoln.

Like her predecessor, Mrs. Lincoln had already suffered the trauma of losing a young son before becoming First Lady.

A Lincoln Presidential Museum depiction of Mary Lincoln at the sickbed of her son WIllie. (flickr)

In February of 1862, while her husband led the Union during the Civil War, Mrs. Abraham Lincoln watched helplessly as her eleven year old son Willie died of typhoid fever: there was little public sympathy for her, the rational being that she had the privilege of at least being with her son when he died while most of the nation’s other mothers were losing their sons to battlefield death.

Artist and author Michelle L. Hamilton depicted Abraham and Mary Lincoln during a White House seance.

Responding to the loss as Jane Pierce had to hers, Mary Lincoln began consulting a series of mediums, attending the séance circles of Cranston Laurie, and inviting Nettie Colburn Maynard, William Shockle and another identified in the record only as “Colchester of Georgetown” to conduct these “calls to the dead” in the White House Red Room.

On at least one known occasion, President Lincoln was in attendance.

Mary Lincoln told her sister that her two dead sons Willie and Eddy visited her, coming to the foot of her bed. (LC)

Laurie was apparently the most successful in uniting the First Lady with her dead son’s spirit because he was permitted to became intimate enough with her to use clairvoyance, detecting that there were enemies around her who must be replaced: to the politically keen Mary Lincoln this claim served to bolster her sense that Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase was being disloyal to the President.

While Jane Pierce reported that her son did return to her in dreams, Mary Lincoln claimed that the spirits of her dead sons took actual ghost form and manifested in her White House bedroom.

An image of Lincoln in his coffin (pinterest).

As she wrote her sister Emilie about Willie: “He comes to me every night and stands at the foot of my bed with the same, sweet adorable smile he has always had he does not always come alone. Little Eddie is sometimes with him.”

The famous photograph of the widowed Mary Lincoln with the hands of her husband’s ghost on her shoulders.

The assassination of her husband led Mary Lincoln to find her only solace in an even more adamant belief in spiritualism.

She reportedly joined a “spiritualist commune” for several days during a New England trip, and famously posed for “spirit photographer” William Mumler, who then created an image of her husband’s ghost with his hands protectively on her shoulders.

Offering her the only comfort she experienced in her years as a widow, Mrs. Lincoln believed it was authentic.

“A very slight veil separates us from ‘the loved and lost,'” she wrote to a friend, “though unseen by us, they are very near.”

Andrine October 31, 2014, 7:13 am

I have enjoyed reading about the American Spiritualism movement since I lived in upstate NY within 10 miles of Hydesville- where the Fox sisters heard the first spirit rapping. Many are not aware of the historical significance of this movement.
Thank you for bringing to light the influence of Spiritualism on the First Ladies.

Carl Anthony October 31, 2014, 12:49 pm

We appreciate your response Andrine. There is actually a bit of politics behind Mrs. Pierce calling on the Fox sisters but there wasn’t room for every detail.

LOUISE LEEK November 2, 2014, 2:56 pm

I KNEW ABOUT MARY LINCOLN AND HER SEANCES BUT DID NOT KNOW ABOUT JANE PIERCE. VERY INTERESTING. THANKS


Jane Means Appleton Pierce

Jane Means Appleton Pierce was the wife of the 14th President, Franklin Pierce. She served as First Lady of the United States from 1853 to 1857.

In looks and in pathetic destiny young Jane Means Appleton resembled the heroine of a Victorian novel. The gentle dignity of her face reflected her sensitive, retiring personality and physical weakness. Her father had died–he was a Congregational minister, the Reverend Jesse Appleton, president of Bowdoin College–and her mother had taken the family to Amherst, New Hampshire. And Jane met a Bowdoin graduate, a young lawyer with political ambitions, Franklin Pierce.

Although he was immediately devoted to Jane, they did not marry until she was 28 — surprising in that day of early marriages. Her family opposed the match moreover, she always did her best to discourage his interest in politics. The death of a three-day-old son, the arrival of a new baby, and Jane’s dislike of Washington counted heavily in his decision to retire at the apparent height of his career, as United States Senator, in 1842. Little Frank Robert, the second son, died the next year of typhus.

Service in the Mexican War brought Pierce the rank of brigadier and local fame as a hero. He returned home safely, and for four years the Pierces lived quietly at Concord, New Hampshire, in the happiest period of their lives. With attentive pleasure Jane watched her son Benjamin growing up.

Then, in 1852, the Democratic Party made Pierce their candidate for President. His wife fainted at the news. When he took her to Newport for a respite, Benny wrote to her: “I hope he won’t be elected for I should not like to be at Washington and I know you would not either.” But the President-elect convinced Jane that his office would be an asset for Benny’s success in life.

On a journey by train, January 6, 1853, their car was derailed and Benny killed before their eyes. The whole nation shared the parents’ grief. The inauguration on March 4 took place without an inaugural ball and without the presence of Mrs. Pierce. She joined her husband later that month, but any pleasure the White House might have brought her was gone. From this loss she never recovered fully. Other events deepened the somber mood of the new administration: Mrs. Fillmore’s death in March, that of Vice President Rufus King in April.

Always devout, Jane Pierce turned for solace to prayer. She had to force herself to meet the social obligations inherent in the role of First Lady. Fortunately she had the companionship and help of a girlhood friend, now her aunt by marriage, Abigail Kent Means. Mrs. Robert E. Lee wrote in a private letter: “I have known many of the ladies of the White House, none more truly excellent than the afflicted wife of President Pierce. Her health was a bar to any great effort on her part to meet the expectations of the public in her high position but she was a refined, extremely religious and well educated lady.”

With retirement, the Pierces made a prolonged trip abroad in search of health for the invalid–she carried Benny’s Bible throughout the journey. The quest was unsuccessful, so the couple came home to New Hampshire to be near family and friends until Jane’s death in 1863. She was buried near Benny’s grave.


Pierce, Jane Means (1806–1863)

American first lady from 1853 to 1857 who never functioned in that capacity due to the loss of her third son in a train accident just weeks before her husband's inauguration. Name variations: Mrs. Franklin Pierce Jeanie Pierce. Born Jane Means Appleton on March 12, 1806, in Hampton, New Hampshire diedon December 2, 1863, in Andover, Massachusetts daughter of Elizabeth (Means) Appleton and Rev. Jesse Appleton (president of Bowdoin College) married Franklin Pierce (president of the United States, 1853–1857), on November 19, 1834, in Amherst, New Hampshire children: Franklin, Jr. (died three days after birth) Frank Robert (1840–1844) Benjamin (1841–1853).

On January 6, 1853, Jane and Franklin Pierce witnessed the death of their 11-year old son Benjamin, when a train in which the family was traveling suddenly derailed. For Jane Pierce, ill with consumption and anguished by the previous loss of two other sons, this was the final blow. When her husband was inaugurated as president two months later, she was too weak with grief to accompany him to Washington.

Shy and delicate, "Jeanie" Appleton was born in Hampton, New Hampshire, in 1806, the daughter of Elizabeth Means Appleton and Jesse Appleton, a Calvinist minister and president of Bowdoin College. Jane grew up in a deeply religious New England environment, under the watchful eye of her father. Well educated but frail, she was deprived of exercise and fresh air because the reverend felt that these were inappropriate for girls. He died when Jane was 13, and the family moved to Elizabeth's family home in Amherst, New Hampshire. It was there, in 1826, that Jane met Franklin Pierce, a young law student. Although his devotion to her was clear, she and her family strongly disapproved of his drinking and his political ambitions. The couple did not marry until 1834, when Jane was 28. Dressed in the traveling clothes and bonnet she had been wed in, she and Franklin left immediately for Washington, where he would be installed as a newly elected U.S. congressional representative.

Franklin soon advanced to the Senate, but Jane hated Washington and spent as little time there as possible. The climate aggravated her fragile health, and the lavish evening parties went against her religious beliefs. Jane's absence and disapproval did not diminish her husband's political aspirations, but the death of their three-dayold son and the arrival of two others, Frank in 1840 and Benjamin in 1841, did. Concerned for his wife, Franklin left the Senate in 1842, at the height of his career, and retired to Concord, New Hampshire. When son Frank died of typhus two years later, Jane's spirit was further shattered. Franklin turned down President James K. Polk's offer of an appointment as attorney general because of Jane's ill health. Despite her protests, however, a restless Franklin enlisted in the Mexican War, returning in 1848, a general and a local hero.

The next four years were possibly the happiest in Jane's life. Her husband was home and their third son, Benjamin, was thriving. When Franklin was chosen as the presidential candidate of the Northern Democrats in 1852, Jane was so distressed that she is said to have fainted at the news. Young Benjamin evidently shared his mother's disdain for politics. He reportedly said to her, "I hope he won't be elected, for I should not like to be at Washington and I know you would not either."

When Jane was finally able to join her husband in the White House after the death of Benjamin, she spent most of her time in her bedroom, writing letters to her deceased son. Formal entertaining was presided over by her aunt Abby Kent Means , or by Varina Howell Davis , second wife of the secretary of war. When Jane did appear, "her woebegone face, with its sunken dark eyes and skin like yellowed ivory, banished all animation in others." She became known as the "shadow in the White House."

While the slavery issue continued to polarize the nation, Franklin ended his political career by signing the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, opening the door for the election of James Buchanan in 1856. Leaving Washington, the Pierces toured Europe, but Jane longed for home. In later years, her depression increased and her health declined further. She died of tuberculosis at age 57, and was buried with her sons at Old North Cemetery in Concord, New Hampshire.


Original Settlers–Spring, 1607

  • Master Edward Maria Wingfield
  • Captaine Bartholomew Gosnoll
  • Captaine John Smyth
  • Captaine John Ratliffe
  • Captaine John Martin
  • Captaine George Kendall
  • Master Robert Hunt
  • Master George Percie
  • Anthony Gosnoll
  • Captaine Gabriell Archer
  • Robert Ford
  • William Bruster
  • Dru Pickhouse
  • John Brookes
  • Thomas Sands
  • John Robinson
  • Ustis Clovill
  • Kellam Throgmorton
  • Nathaniell Powell
  • Robert Behethland
  • Jeremy Alicock
  • Thomas Studley
  • Richard Crofts
  • Nicholas Houlgrave
  • Thomas Webbe
  • John Waler
  • William Tanker
  • Francis Snarsbrough
  • Edward Brookes
  • Richard Dixon
  • John Martin
  • George Martin
  • Anthony Gosnold
  • Thomas Wotton, Surgeon
  • Thomas Gore
  • Francis Midwinter
  • William Laxon/Laxton
  • Edward Pising
  • Thomas Emry
  • Robert Small
  • Anas Todkill
  • John Capper

First Supply, January 1608

  • Matthew Scrivner
  • Michaell Phetyplace
  • William Phetyplace
  • Ralfe Morton
  • William Cantrill
  • Richard Wyffin
  • Robert Barnes
  • George Hill
  • George Pretty
  • John Taverner
  • Robert Cutler
  • Michaell Sickelmore
  • Thomas Coo
  • Peter Pory
  • Richard Killingbeck
  • William Causey
  • Doctor Russell
  • Richard Worley
  • Richard Prodger
  • William Bayley
  • Richard Molynex
  • Richard Pots
  • Jefrey Abots
  • John Harper
  • Timothy Leds
  • Edward Gurganay
  • George Forest
  • John Nickoles
  • William Gryvill
  • Daniell Stalling
  • William Dawson
  • Abraham Ransacke
  • William Johnson
  • Richard Belfield
  • Peter Keffer
  • Robert Alberton
  • Raymond Goodyson
  • John Speareman
  • William Spence
  • Richard Brislow
  • William Simons
  • John Bouth
  • William Burket
  • Nicholas Ven
  • William Perce
  • Francis Perkins
  • Francis Perkins
  • William Bentley
  • Richard Gradon
  • Rowland Nelstrop
  • Richard Salvage
  • Thomas Salvage
  • Richard Miler
  • William May
  • Vere
  • Michaell
  • Bishop Wyles
  • John Powell
  • Thomas Hope
  • William Beckwith
  • William Yonge
  • Laurence Towtales
  • William Ward
  • Christopher Rodes
  • James Watkings
  • Richard Fetherstone
  • James Burne
  • Thomas Feld
  • John Harford
  • Post Gittnat
  • John Lewes
  • Robert Cotton
  • Richard Dole
  • With divers others

Jane Pierce, Recalling Her Deceased Child, is Haunted by Happier Times

Jane Pierce was melancholy by nature, and the outside world did nothing to relieve her often persuasive spirit of despair. Just seven months before this letter was penned, her beloved son and only surviving child, Bennie, was struck down before her eyes in a train wreck, in which he was the only fatality &ndash a sign of God&rsquos vengeance, she felt, for her husband&rsquos excessive, and by her despised, political ambition. She so hated Franklin&rsquos becoming president that she refused to attend his inauguration and spent the first two years of her White House sojourn locked away in her suite on the second floor.

Here she writes to her sister about family matters - &ldquoMr. Pierce&rdquo is well, she is unwell, and no office can be found for &ldquoMr. Jackson of Salem," for whom she hopes there will be &ldquoother and better employment, not dependent on government&rdquo - but her tragic loss is never far from her thoughts. Hearing that a &ldquoProfessor Nyman&rdquo and his wife have lost their child, she writes of her own anguish:

Ah! I well know how agonized they are - their only son and child! Dear Mary if you come across any old letters of mine who speak of dear Ben will you just save them for me .

Jane Pierce lived for ten more years, never growing any happier, nor more reconciled to her fate.


Jane Pierce - HISTORY

Jane Means Appleton Pierce

In looks and in pathetic destiny young Jane Means Appleton resembled the heroine of a Victorian novel. The gentle dignity of her face reflected her sensitive, retiring personality and physical weakness. Her father had died--he was a Congregational minister, the Reverend Jesse Appleton, president of Bowdoin College--and her mother had taken the family to Amherst, New Hampshire. And Jane met a Bowdoin graduate, a young lawyer with political ambitions, Franklin Pierce.

Although he was immediately devoted to Jane, they did not marry until she was 28 -- surprising in that day of early marriages. Her family opposed the match moreover, she always did her best to discourage his interest in politics. The death of a three-day-old son, the arrival of a new baby, and Jane's dislike of Washington counted heavily in his decision to retire at the apparent height of his career, as United States Senator, in 1842. Little Frank Robert, the second son, died the next year of typhus.

Then, in 1852, the Democratic Party made Pierce their candidate for President. His wife fainted at the news. When he took her to Newport for a respite, Benny wrote to her: "I hope he won't be elected for I should not like to be at Washington and I know you would not either." But the President-elect convinced Jane that his office would be an asset for Benny's success in life.

On a journey by train, January 6, 1853, their car was derailed and Benny killed before their eyes. The whole nation shared the parents' grief. The inauguration on March 4 took place without an inaugural ball and without the presence of Mrs. Pierce. She joined her husband later that month, but any pleasure the White House might have brought her was gone. From this loss she never recovered fully. Other events deepened the somber mood of the new administration: Mrs. Fillmore's death in March, that of Vice President Rufus King in April.

Always devout, Jane Pierce turned for solace to prayer. She had to force herself to meet the social obligations inherent in the role of First Lady. Fortunately she had the companionship and help of a girlhood friend, now her aunt by marriage, Abigail Kent Means. Mrs. Robert E. Lee wrote in a private letter: "I have known many of the ladies of the White House, none more truly excellent than the afflicted wife of President Pierce. Her health was a bar to any great effort on her part to meet the expectations of the public in her high position but she was a refined, extremely religious and well educated lady."

With retirement, the Pierces made a prolonged trip abroad in search of health for the invalid--she carried Benny's Bible throughout the journey. The quest was unsuccessful, so the couple came home to New Hampshire to be near family and friends until Jane's death in 1863. She was buried near Benny's grave.


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