Today In Gay – April 23rd: James “Mr. Fancy” Buchanan America’s First Gay President?
April 23, 1791
James Buchanan was born near Mercerburg, Pennsylvania. He served as the 15th president of the United States and was the only life-long bachelor to serve in that office.
Historian James W. Loewen has done extensive research into Buchanan’s personal life, and he’s convinced Buchanan was gay. Loewen is the author of the acclaimed book “Lies Across America,” which examines how historical sites inaccurately portray figures and events in America’s past. “I’m sure that Buchanan was gay,” Loewen said. “There is clear evidence that he was gay. And since I haven’t seen any evidence that he was heterosexual, I don’t believe he was bisexual.”
According to Loewen, Buchanan shared a residence with William Rufus King, a Democratic senator from Alabama, for several years in Washington, D.C. – King was called “Miss Fancy” by his detractors, making the soon to be President “Mr Fancy.”
Buchanan was “fairly open” about his relationship with King, causing some colleagues to view the men as a couple. For example, Aaron Brown, a prominent Democrat, writing to Mrs. James K. Polk, referred to King as Buchanan’s “better half,” “his wife”.
In 1844, when 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.”
In one letter to a confidante dated May 13, 1844, Buchanan wrote about his life after King moved to Paris to become the American ambassador to France:
“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 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.”
Their relationship — though interrupted due to foreign-service obligations — ended only with King’s death in 1853.
Patrick Clarke, the director of Wheatland, Mansion in Lancaster, Pa., where Buchanan spent his later years. said that the staff at Wheatland now takes a neutral stance on Buchanan’s sexual or affectional preference.
“There’s no solid proof that Buchanan was heterosexual, nor is there solid proof that he was homosexual,” Clarke said. “If we ever come up with a smoking gun that proves it one way or the other, I would definitely encourage our staff to share it with the public.”