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Meridian Hill Park (also known informally as Malcom X Park) is a structured urban park located in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington D.C. In this park sits the only memorial to the 15th President of the United States, James Buchanan. Highly criticized by contemporaries and historians alike for his failure to deal with the issue of secession, Buchanan remains a relatively obscure figure in American history. The sculpture was created by artist Hans Schuler in 1929 and depicts a seated Buchanan flanked by allegorical figures.


  • James Buchanan Memorial in Meridian Hill Park. Image by Daquella manera, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16116061

President James Buchanan held office from March 4, 1857 – March 4, 1861. Buchanan's administration is one of the most criticized in American history. His failure to intervene during the succession crisis that preceded the Civil War has often been described as the worst presidential decision ever made. Consequently, few monuments to Buchanan exist.

The bronze sculpture of Buchanan is the only monument to the 15th President in the city of Washington, D.C. Created by Hans Schuler in 1929, the monument depicts a seated Buchanan flanked by two allegorical figures. Though commissioned in 1916, it was not approved by Congress until 1918. Unveiled on June 26, 1930, the monument was intended to compliment an earlier monument located at Buchanan's birthplace in Mercersburg, Pennslyvania.

The base of the monument is made from concrete and Milfor pink marble. It measures approximately 70 X 69 inches. The sculpture itself is about 6 feet 2 inches tall by 6 feet 7 inches wide and represents Buchanan sitting in a chair, wearing a robe and looking down at a sheet of paper held in his left hand. Behind him is a white marble wall and curved stone bench, upon which are seated anthropomorphized representations of Diplomacy and Law made of granite.
 
Several inscriptions are featured on the monument. These include the name of the artist (back wall behind the sculpture), "BVCHANAN" (back wall, above the sculpture), and "JAMES BUCHANAN OF PENNSYLVANIA/PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES/MDCCCLVII-MDCCClXI" (back wall, to the right of the sculpture). On the left side of the back wall is a quote from Jeremiah S. Black, a member of Buchanan's cabinet. It reads:

THE INCORRUPTIBLE STATESMAN WHOSE/WALK WAS UPON THE MOUNTAIN RANGES OF/THE LAW.1

1. "Buchanan, (sculpture)." Accessed October 30, 2016. http://siris-artinventories.si.edu. "James Buchanan." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed October 30, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Buchanan. "James Buchanan Memorial." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed October 30, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Buchanan_Memorial. "Meridian Hill Park." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed October 30, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meridian_Hill_Park.