by Jonathan B Perry
It seems, historically, that marriage has been an unspoken requirement for American presidents, except, of course, for President #15, James Buchanan (1791-1868), whose raw bachelor sex appeal helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War (maybe not bachelor-induced, but his inability to stop southern succession wasn’t helpful). Buchanan was the Democrat president right before Lincoln and is often considered by historians to be one of the worst. And of all the presidents, he was the only one who never married.
It’s not that he didn’t try to debachelorize. At about age 28 he actually fell in love with and even proposed to Ann Coleman, daughter of a wealthy iron-mill owner. Sadly, Ann’s folks didn’t think old JB was up to snuff. Shortly after Buchanan’s proposal was denied, the poor girl died under mysterious circumstances, a rumored suicide, and it seems that JB never tried again, swearing off marriage. He was even barred from the funeral. Keeping her letters always, he requested they be burned at his death. Even so, it was suspected by many, including Andrew Jackson, that Buchanan may have maintained a homosexual relationship with Alabama Senator William Rufus King, with whom he lived for 15 years. Aaron V Brown referred to the two as “Buchanan and his wife”. It’s hard to know. Times were different then, though it is interesting to note that the nieces of both men later burned the men’s letters of correspondence. Lots of letter burning. How will they burn our blogs or emails when we’re gone? Didn’t hear this stuff much in history class.
Anyway, Happy Presidents’ Day!
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