Harriet Lane’s Bracelet Story

Presidential History Blog

Harriet Lane served as de facto First Lady for her bachelor Uncle, POTUS James Buchanan.

Little Orphan Harriet

James Buchanan was a brother among many sisters. Having received a solid education, he became a successful Pennsylvania attorney, elected to Congress at a young age, and rose in Democratic political circles. Since he never married, he became guardian or semi-guardian to several nieces and nephews, all of whom he treated generously and affectionately. 

But when his niece Harriet Lane (1830-1903) became completely orphaned at nine, she became not only his ward, but as near a daughter as he would ever have. He adored her, and she was devoted to “Nunc,” as she called him, for the rest of her life. 

Young Harriet (second from left) with President and Mrs. Polk – and Dolley Madison (far right).(LOC)

In her early teens, Harriet came to live with him in Washington, and…

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