James Buchanan: April 23, 1791-June 1, 1868

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Editor's Note: Jonathan Ned Katz requests that the original sources of all quotations about Buchanan be fully and completely cited so that readers can judge the possible bias in these sources, their context, and the meaning of the quoted words.


Introduction

William Rufus DeVane King

For 15 years <from 18?? to 18??> in Washington, D.C., Buchanan lived with Alabama Senator William Rufus King. In 18?? King became Vice President under Franklin Pierce, and King died in 18??, soon after Pierce's inauguration.[1]


Buchanan and King's close relationship prompted Andrew Jackson to refer to King as "Miss Nancy" and "Aunt Fancy."[2]


Aaron V. Brown spoke of the two as "Buchanan and his wife."[3]


Aaron V. Brown called him "Buchanan's better half (in reference to presidency not their personal relationship)."[4]


Some of the contemporary press also speculated about Buchanan and King's relationship.[5]


King's nieces destroyed their uncles' correspondence, but the length and intimacy of surviving letters illustrate "the affection of a special friendship."[6]


Buchanan wrote of his "communion" with his housemate.[7]


Such expression was not unusual among men at the time.[8] But the usualness of such expressions does not mean that they did not sometimes include an erotic element.


Buchanan and King's close emotional ties have led to speculation that Buchanan was America's first homosexual president.[9]


James W. Loewen, in his book Lies Across America, points out that in May 1844, during one of the interruptions in Buchanan and King's relationship that resulted from King's appointment as minister to France, Buchanan wrote to a Mrs. Roosevelt about his social life,

"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."[10]


The only President never to marry, Buchanan turned to Harriet Lane, an orphaned niece whom he had earlier adopted, to act as his First Lady.[11] King was the only Vice President never to marry.[12]


James Loewen argues that Buchanan's relationship with King may have been responsible for the former's pro-slavery positions. Buchanan was from Pennsylvania in the North, but King was a Southern slaveholder.[13]


References

  1. Philip S. Klein, President James Buchanan: A Biography (Newtown, CT: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1962), pg 111. Source listed on Wikipedia, August 30, 2008, 5:50 pm.
  2. Jean H. Baker, James Buchanan (NY: Henry Holt and Company, 2004), pages 25–26. Source listed on Wikipedia, August 30, 2008, 5:50 pm. BAKER IS NOT AN ORIGINAL SOURCE. DOES BAKER CITE THE ORIGINAL SOURCE OF THE QUOTE? WHAT IS IS? WHAT WAS THE MEANING OF THE TERMS "MISS NANCY" AND AUNT FANCY?WAS GENDER DEVIANCE ASSOCIATED WITH SEXUAL DEVIANCE AT THIS TIME, IN THIS PLACE?
  3. Paul F. Boller, Not So! (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 75. Source listed on Wikipedia, August 30, 2008, 5:50 pm. THIS NOT AN ORIGINAL SOURCE. DOES THIS SOURCE CITE THE ORIGINAL SOURCE OF THE QUOTE? WHAT IS IT?
  4. Wikipedia says this is a reference from Katz, Gay American History, no page given.
  5. QUOTES? CITES?
  6. Jean H. Baker, James Buchanan (NY: Henry Holt and Company, 2004), pages 25–26. Source listed on Wikipedia, August 30, 2008, 5:50 pm. BAKER IS NOT AN ORIGINAL SOURCE. DOES BAKER CITE THE ORIGINAL SOURCE OF THE QUOTE? WHAT IS IT?
  7. Steve Tally, Bland Ambition: From Adams to Quayle--The Cranks, Criminals, Tax Cheats, and Golfers Who Made It to Vice President (Place of pub?: Publisher?, Year of pub?), p. ? THIS NOT AN ORIGINAL SOURCE. DOES THIS SOURCE CITE THE ORIGINAL SOURCE OF THE QUOTE? WHAT IS IT?
  8. Citations? Meaning? Implication? So....?
  9. Jean H. Baker, James Buchanan (NY: Henry Holt and Company, 2004), pages 25–26. Source listed on Wikipedia, August 30, 2008, 5:50 pm.
  10. James W. Loewen, Lies Across America (Place of Pub?, The New Press, 1999), p. 367; Philip Klein, President James Buchanan: A Biography (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1962), p. 156; George Ticknor Curtis, Life of James Buchanan (New York: Harper's, 188?), 1:519. NONE OF THESE ARE ORIGINAL SOURCES. DO ANY OF THEM CITE THE ORIGINAL SOURCE OF THE QUOTE? WHAT IS IT?
  11. Source?
  12. Source?
  13. IS THERE ANY RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE MEN'S INTIMACY AND THEIR VIEWS ON SLAVERY? IF SO, WHAT IS IT?


Bibliography

Advocate. article in. 1980s?

Baker, Jean H.

Curtis,

Katz, Jonathan Ned. Gay American History (NY: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1976)

Loewen, James.

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wags referred to them as "the Siamese twins." Andrew Jackson dubbed King "Miss Nancy," and Aaron Brown, a prominent Democrat, writing to Mrs. James K. Polk, referred to him as Buchanan's "better half," "his wife," and "Aunt Fancy . . . rigged out in her best clothes." When in 1844 King was appointed minister to France, he wrote Buchanan, "I am selfish enough to hope you will not be able to procure an associate who will cause you to feel no regret at our separation." On May 13, Buchanan wrote to a Mrs. Roosevelt about his social life:


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