"To secure for the purpose of a site for a monument . . . an acre or more of ground at Stony Batter, near Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, the birth place of my uncle James Buchanan, and thereon to erect a suitable monument with proper inscriptions . . . "Last Will and Testament of Harriet Lane Johnston
Harriet Rebecca Lane was the youngest daughter of James Buchanan's sister, Jane. Tragically, Harriet's parents died when she was just 11. Eventually, she came to live with her favorite uncle, James, who became her guardian in 1842. Buchanan made sure that Harriet was trained academically and socially, skills that proved invaluable when he reached the White House.
Buchanan entered the White House as a bachelor, having experienced heart break as a young man when his fianc?e tragically died. Lane acted as first lady during his presidency, guiding social functions, being active in hospital and prison reform and working for humanitarian treatment of American Indians.
During her adult life, Harriet fought to honor her uncle. She helped publish his presidential memoirs and spent years dispelling the belief he caused the Civil War. When she died in 1903, she left $100,000 to create two President James Buchanan memorials.
She limited the time to secure the monument sites to 15 years. The James Buchanan Monument Fund purchased 18.5 acres of mountain land here in 1906, and construction of the monument began in 1907. On March 22, 1911, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania accepted the land and monument from the last monument fund trustee, making it the first gift of land to the state park system.
This monument marks the
birthplace of James Buchanan
fifteenth President of the
Born 23 April 1791 ? ? Died 1 June 1868