Jane did not attend Bennie [Pierce's] funeral or her husband's inauguration as president of the United States. As First Lady, she remained cloistered in her White House quarters during most of their time in Washington. Recognizing her crippled emotional state, executive mansion responsibilities were quickly transferred to Sidney Webster and Abigail "Abby" Means. Webster was Franklin Pierce's personal secretary. Abigail Means, the second wife of Jane's uncle Robert Means, became a surrogate First Lady and lived in the White House during most of Pierce's incumbency. Much of Jane Pierce's behavior as First Lady was recorded in a White House diary kept by Abby Means. Jane Pierce was lucid but severely depressed. She would write letters to her deceased son Bennie, which she acknowledged were simply an outlet for her feelings. Her chronic state of ill health and melancholia undoubtedly affected the president's performance in the White House. It may well have contributed to his ineffectual management of the government during the critical years leading to the Civil War. In his last year as president, Franklin Pierce wrote, "I am inclined to think . . . that I shall not be nominated. . . . You would be surprised to know with how much indifference I contemplate the result so far as it is calculated to affect me personally--I am weary of incessant labor but in good health and good heart. Dear Jeannie is also pretty well but somewhat anxious and troubled" (Pierce-Aiken Papers, pp. 61, 62, 83).
Norman F. Boas, "Pierce, Jane Means Appleton," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/04/04-01202.html.