I would like to thank my friend, historian Brad Fairchild for contributing a great deal of research for this article. Apparently, History has set the record a bit too “straight.” Yes, while I realize President Buchanan represents, perhaps, one of the worst presidents in American history, he also represents America’s first gay president. His relationship with William Rufus King was common knowledge in the country’s capital. Unfortunately, there are few primary resources regarding Buchanan, as he ordered his letters to be burnt upon his death.
We do know that Andrew Jackson and others referred to Buchanan and King as “Miss Nancy” and “Aunt Fancy.” Vice-President King, under President Pierce, was referred to as “Miss Nancy,” while President Buchanan was referred to as “Aunt Fancy” and “Mrs. Buchanan” by James Polk. In and around Washington, the two were also called “Siamese twins,” which was slang at the time for gays and lesbians.
Initially I was worried there would not be enough information, or a lack of sources regarding Buchanan’s sexual orientation. Much of what I have gleaned here was from The Chronicle of Higher Education, Oct. 15, 1999 that my friend Brad shared with me. However, Buchanan’s being gay seems to now be commonly accepted knowledge. There are a handful of website and articles, and even Wikipedia talks about his romantic relationship with King. I used four different sources for this specific article.
While I try to only include LGBT people that are dedicated to issues of social justice and the common good, I had to celebrate President Buchanan for being the first gay president. Click here to learn more about President Buchanan.