Franklin Pierce was born in 1804 with the militia traditon in his veins, the son of a hero of the American Revolution who was among Washington's most trusted combat officers. Young Franklin attended Bowdoing College in Maine and while there formed a life-long friendship with Nathaniel Hawthorne, later one of his biographers. Upon graduation, he returned to his native state of New Hampshire and read for the law. Politics caught his fancy and his ambitions. He was a stirring orator as well as a tir eless worker, and his progress was rapid: member of the state legislature by 1828; its speaker by 1831. That same year he was appointed a colonel in the New Hampshire militia and served as the governor's aide-de-camp. He retired from Congress in 1842 and returned to state politics and his law practice in Concord, New Hampshire. The 1846-48 Mexican War took him into active military service as a brigade commander in General Winfield Scott's army. Pierce brought his troops in good order from New England to Veracruz and then overland to join Scott in the field before Mexico City. He participated bravely in numerous engagements, acquiring a bullet hole in the brim of his hat, and showed himself to be his father's son. In 1853 Franklin Pierce became the 14th president of the United States of America.