Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The first gay president?

The topic of the sexuality of President James Buchanan has become a talking point in the media of late due to the presidential campaign of openly gay candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg of Indiana. In that spirit, we turn to the life of our nation’s only bachelor president and his intimate personal relationship with William Rufus King of Alabama (vice president under President Franklin Pierce). The surprisingly intimate nature of their personal and political relationship reveals how male friendship shaped the politics of America before the Civil War.


Featured Image Credit: “Drawing of President of the United States James Buchanan’s home, ‘Wheatland,’ near Lancaster, Pennsylvania” by Unknown Artist. Public Domain viaWikimedia Commons

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