Sep 30, 2014 11:02 PM

Fighting for Franklin Pierce, NH's only president

CONCORD - For years, Pierce Manse tour guide Joan Davis has given visitors from far and wide a history lesson on the only United States President from New Hampshire, Franklin Pierce.

"He had developed principles early in his life that he adhered to the rest of his life, even as president," said Davis. "He was probably the most honest president of any president in the 19th century."

40 years ago, Pierce Manse, the only house Pierce ever owned, did not sit on Horseshoe Pond Lane in Concord.

Instead, the house was in the middle of downtown. A 1970s urban renewal project slated it for demolition, until citizens fought back.

" There was a group who thought that would be a terrible shame to tear down the house that Franklin Pierce and his wife, Jane, ever owned and lived in," said Davis. "So they formed a group called the Pierce Brigade, and they raised money, and they got permission and they actually jacked this house up and put it on the back of a tractor- trailer truck and brought it right down Main Street."

In 1974, the Pierce Manse opened to visitors. Today they still come from all over the world to learn about the president who barely left a paper trail.

"Pierce didn't save his correspondence," said Davis. "He didn't think it was valuable. He never wrote an autobiography himself. Nobody in his cabinet ever wrote a book. So, the records were very sparse about what had actually happened back then, and, of course, it was before television.

Over the years, the Pierce Manse has become its own sort of time capsule providing a more intimate picture of the nation's 14th president.

"I just urge everyone that lives in Concord to some time take the time to come by here," said visitor Frank Sargent of North Carolina.

The Pierce Manse offers tours on Fridays and Saturdays from noon until 3 pm through October 11.


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