Abraham Lincoln, Sexuality and Intimacy: 1809-1865

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OPEN ENTRY: This entry is open to collaborative creation by anyone with evidence, citations, and analysis to share, so no particular, named creator is responsible for the accuracy and cogency of its content. Please use this entry's Comment section at the bottom of the page to suggest improvements about which you are unsure. Thanks.

Timeline, Major Documents, and Bibliography

This article, open to additions and changes, and now an incomplete stub, is intended to gather in one place and provide complete citations to the the major documents, articles, and books relevant to an understanding of Lincoln's sexuality and his intimate relationships with men and women. OutHistory initiates this entry as a documentary contribution to the ongoing debate about these aspects of Lincoln's life. To that end, we begin to list below the subheads of the sections that we hope will be filled in by others and we begin a timeline of the relevant events and relationships in Lincoln's life. If collaborators on this entry wish, they can list their names in alphabetical order at the end of this entry.


Timeline

1809, Feb 12: Lincoln is born in what is then Hardin County Kentucky, about three miles south of the present Hodgenville, Kentucky.


1830s: Billy Green shares bed with Lincoln in New Salem, Illinois.


1835, Aug 25: Ann Rutledge dies at her family's farm seven miles northwest of New Salem.


1836, Dec 13: Lincoln writes to Mary Owens at New Salem.


1837, Apr 15: Lincoln moves to Springfield and meets and begins sharing a bed with Joshua Fry Speed.


1838, Ap. 1: Lincoln writes to xxxxxxx about Mary Owens.


c. 1839-1840: Speed sends Lincoln to see a prostitute of his acquaintance in Springfield, Illinois, and Lincoln fails to consumate any sexual act.


1840, Summer: Mary Todd writes to Mercy Levering about Lincoln and other suitors.


1840, Fall: Lincoln and Mary Todd are moving toward an engagement to be married.


1840, Dec: Lincoln and Speed both fall in love with Matilda Edwards.


1841, Jan 1: Speed sells his interest in his Springfield general store in preparation for a return to his family home in Kentucky, and Lincoln suffers an emotional crisis and is absent from the Illinois legislature for several days. Lincoln and/or Mary Todd may also have broken their engagement on this day, or they may not. There is no evidence that Mary Todd was in Springfield on this date.


1841, Jan 20: Lincoln writes to Speed.


1841, Feb 3: Lincoln writes to Speed.


1841, Jun: Mary Todd writes to Mercy Levering.


1841, Aug: Lincoln travels from Illinois to Kentucky with Speed to visit Speed at his family home. Later, Lincoln writes about seeing unhappy slaves being sold down the river. Lincoln reminisces about this in a letter to Speed written August 24, 1855. Here is an excerpt:

In 1841 you and I had together a tedious low-water trip, on a Steam Boat from Louisville to St. Louis. You may remember, as I well do, that from Louisville to the mouth of the Ohio, there were, on board, ten or a dozen slaves, shackled together with irons. That sight was a continual torment to me; and I see some-thing like it every time I touch the Ohio, or any other slave-border. It is hardly fair for you to assume, that I have no interest in a thing which has, and continually exercises, the power of making me miserable. You ought rather to appreciate how much the great body of the Northern people do crucify their feelings, in order to maintain their loyalty to the Constitution and the Union.


1841, Summer: Speed and Fanny Henning are engaged to be married, and Speed is "very unhappy" until his marriage to Henning in February 1842.


1841, early Sep: Speed writes to Lincoln, sharing his "immense suffering" with his friend and Lincoln writes back (only Lincoln's letters survive).


1842, Jan 1: Speed ends a Springfield visit with Lincoln, starts back to Kentucky to marry Henning, and Lincoln gives Speed a letter to read on the trip. Add this letter.


1842, Feb 13: Lincoln writes to Speed. Add this letter.


1842, Feb 15: Speed and Fanny Henning marry.


1842, Feb 16: The day after his wedding night, Speed writes to Lincoln (letter not extant but a part is quoted in Lincoln's letter to Speed of Feb. 25).


1842, Feb 25: Lincoln writes to Speed. Add this letter.


1842, Mar 27: Lincoln writes to Speed. Add this letter.


1842, Jul 4: Lincoln writes to Speed. Add this letter.


1842, Oct: Lincoln writes to Speed and Speed replies (Speed's letter not extant).


1842, Nov 4: Lincoln and Mary Todd marry.


18??: Lincoln offers Speed the job of U.S. Attorney General, Speed rejects the offer and Lincoln offers the position to Speed's brother James who accepts.


18?? Lincoln and Speed meet in Washington, D.C.


1862, Sep-1863, Apr: Capt. David V. Derickson is President Lincoln's bodyguard, intimate companion, and bedmate when Mary Lincoln is absent from the Lincoln's summer residence.


Lincoln and Derickson Slept Here:

Lincoln Summer Residence.[1]




















18??-18??: Herndon collects comments on Lincoln's sexual and intimate life.


1926: Carl Sandburg comments on Lincoln's and Speed's intimacy as "lavender" in Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years.


1943: Robert Kinkaid publishes Joshua Fry Speed: Lincoln's Most Intimate Friend.


1971: Gary Lee Williams writes Ph.D. thesis on James and Joshua Speed: Lincoln's Kentucky Friends.


1976, Apr: Dennis Doty's "Lincoln's Other Love" is published in the Chicago Gay Crusader.


1980: Gary Lee Williams prepares "The Psychosexual Fears of Joshua Speed and Abraham Lincoln" for delivery at the Annual Meeting of the Organizaiton of American Historians.


1982: Charles B. Strozier publishes Lincoln's Quest for Union: Public and Privae Meanings.


1988, Sep 13: Jonathan Ned Katz publishes "Abe and Josh, Mary and Mercy" in The Advocate.


1989: Charlie Shively publishes "Big Buck and Big Lick" in Drum Beats: Walt Whitman's Civil War Boy Lovers.


1992, Jun: Douglas L. Wilson publishes "Abraham Lincoln and 'That Fatal First of January.'"


1993: E. Anthony Rotundo publishesAmerican Manhood: Transformations in Masculinity from the Revolution to the Modern Era.


1995, Oct 1: Dunlap, David publishes "In Search of History: When Today's Agenda Is a Prism for the Past," New York Times.


2001: Jonathan Ned Katz publishes "No Two Men Were Ever More Intimate", a chapter on Lincoln and Speed, in Love Stories: Sex Between Men Before Homosexuality.


2005: C. A. Tripp's The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln is published after Tripp's death.

Reviews?


2009, April 25: Larry Kramer: "Yale's Conspiracy of Silence," April 25, 2009

Major Documents

Lincoln and Ann Rutledge


Lincoln and bed-sharing in the 19th century U.S.


Lincoln and Billy Greene


Lincoln and Charles B. Hurst


Lincoln and David V. Derickson


Lincoln and Elmer Ellsworth


Lincoln and "dirty stories" told to men


Lincoln and his mother


Lincoln and his stepmother


Lincoln and Joshua Fry Speed


Lincoln and Mary Owens


Lincoln and William Herndon


Lincoln and Women


Lincoln: "No woman ever played the whore"


Lincoln: "Reuben and Charles"


Bibliography on Lincoln, Sexuality, and Intimacy

Doty, Dennis. "Lincoln's Other Love." Chicago Gay Crusader, Issue 26 (April 1976), 6.


Dunlap, David. "In Search of History: When Today's Agenda Is a Prism for the Past." New York Times, October 1, 1995.


Katz, Jonathan Ned. "Abe and Josh, Mary and Mercy." The Advocate (September 13, 1988): 47.


Katz, Jonathan Ned. "No Two Men Were Ever More Intimate," in Love Stories: Sex Between Men Before Homosexuality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001: 3-25, 351-54.


Kinkaid, Robert. Joshua Fry Speed: Lincoln's Most Intimate Friend. Harrogate, Tenn.: Department of Lincolniana, Lincoln Memorial University, 1943.


Rotundo, E. Anthony. American Manhood: Transformations in Masculinity from the Revolution to the Modern Era. NY: Basic Books, 1993.


Sandburg, Carl. Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years. NY: Hacarourt, Brace, 1926: 1:264-69.


Shively, Charlie. "Big Buck and Big Lick," in Drum Beats: Walt Whitman's Civil War Boy Lovers. San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1989.


Strozier, Charles B. Lincoln's Quest for Union: Public and Privae Meanings. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982.


Thompson, W. Scott. "Was Abe Lincoln Gay, Too? A Divided Man to Heal a Divided Age. Unpublished paper. Research Request: Date cite needed.


Tripp, C. A. The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln. New York: Free Press. 2005.


Williams, Gary Lee. James and Joshua Speed: Lincoln's Kentucky Friends. Ph.D. thesis. Duke University, 1971.


Williams, Gary Lee. "The Psychosexual Fears of Joshua Speed and Abraham Lincoln." Paper prepared for delivery at the Annual Meeting of the Organizaiton of American Historians, 1980.


Wilson, Douglas L. "Abraham Lincoln and 'That Fatal First of January.'" Civil War History 38, no. 2 (June 1992): 101-30.

References

  1. Image source: http://www.lincolncottage.org/visit/index.htm


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