(32) This process began during the Buchanan administration.
However, at the time, the Buchanan administration's failure to live within its means, and subsequent reliance on deficit financing to pay ordinary government expenses without engaging in war, represented a significant departure from the "pinchpenny" governments of the earlier decades.
Rather than moderation, the Buchanan administration initiated a "flood of innovations," according to Philip Klein.
The issue of the African trade and its consequences on Liberia escalated dramatically under the Buchanan administration. The marked increase in captures has caused historians to ask important questions about the possible reasons for the escalation.
While the Buchanan administration tried to vindicate American activities against the illegal slave trade, it also sought to distance itself from proslavery extremism in domestic politics that advocated reviving the African slave trade.
By the end of 1858 the Buchanan administration faced a triple threat: British diplomatic pressure, growing domestic fears of a virtual reopening of the slave trade, and a Republican party gaining strength in the face of proslavery extremism and the accusation that the administration was simply unable to enforce the slave-trade law itself.
Foreign policy in Latin America emerges as one of the few bright spots of the Buchanan administration. In a persuasively documented essay, Robert May challenges the traditional perception of Buchanan as a lackey of Southern expansionists, portraying him instead as a staunch foe of illicit filibustering expeditions.