Was Buchanan the first gay president?

by Jim Morgan

Quote from wikipedia about James Buchanan who was the President of the United States just before Abraham Lincoln:

For fifteen years in Washington, D.C., before his presidency, Buchanan lived with his close friend, Alabama Senator William Rufus King.[59][60] King became Vice President under Franklin Pierce. He became ill and died shortly after Pierce’s inauguration, four years before Buchanan became President. Buchanan’s and King’s close relationship prompted Andrew Jackson to call King “Miss Nancy” and “Aunt Fancy”, while Aaron V. Brown spoke of the two as “Buchanan and his wife.”[61] Some of the contemporary press also speculated about Buchanan’s and King’s relationship. The two mens’ nieces destroyed their uncles’ correspondence, leaving some questions about their relationship; but the length and intimacy of surviving letters illustrate “the affection of a special friendship”,[61] and Buchanan wrote of his “communion” with his housemate.[62] In May 1844, during one of King’s absences that resulted from King’s appointment as minister to France, Buchanan wrote to a Mrs. Roosevelt, “I am now ‘solitary and alone’, having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone, and [I] should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection.”[63][64][65]

Circumstances surrounding Buchanan’s and King’s close emotional ties have led to speculation that Buchanan was homosexual.[61] Buchanan’s correspondence during this period with Thomas Kittera, however, mentions his romance with Mary K. Snyder. In Buchanan’s letter to Mrs. Francis Preston Blair, he declines an invitation and expresses an expectation of marriage.[66] The only President to remain a bachelor, Buchanan turned to Harriet Lane, an orphaned niece, whom he had earlier adopted, to act as his official hostess.

Buchanan biographer Jean H. Baker concluded that:

The best speculation about the sexuality of the nonshaving Buchanan, who in his portraits has the eunichlike, endomorphic features of body and face, as well as the low hairline characteristics of asexual men with low levels of testosterone, is that he had little interest in sex. What is important in his story is the deep friendship he maintained with the southerner King from the time of their first acquaintanceship until the latter’s death in 1853.

Advertisements