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Bid to create state Franklin Pierce day tabled in NH House


CONCORD - With his portrait lookng down at them from the front of Representatives Hall, the House Wednesday tabled, rather than reject outright, a bill to establish a "day" for Franklin Pierce, the only President from New Hampshire.

The Executive Departments and Administration Committee had recommended the bill be killed on a 15-0 vote.

In a scathing report to the House, the committee called Pierce "a very controversial figure in his time and the controversy is still alive today. As a compromise candidate during the divisive period leading up to the Civil War, Pierce was reviled in New Hampshire for his support of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which extended slavery to the western territories, and his vigorous enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act.

"The committee was unwilling to perpetually honor such a person, and suggests to the sponsors that the governor can proclaim such a day on her own authority," the committee wrote.

But Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, R-Manchester, argued that the committee "blurb" describing the report was too harsh. He was successful in having the bill tabled.

Rogers Johnson, treasurer and spokesman for the NAACP of the Seacoast, had called the bill "an affront to people of color all over the state."

The bill would have required the governor to declare each Nov. 23, Pierce's birthday, as "Franklin Pierce Day" in New Hampshire "in commemoration of his many accomplishments and service to New Hampshire and his country."

"It's head-scratching," said Johnson. "You can't be any more offensive to people of color than to do something like this."

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