Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy birthday, James!

Today is the 218th birthday of the only American president who was born here in Pennsylvania. He was also the only president who remained a bachelor all of his life.

The birthday boy is: James Buchanan.

Buchanan is one of a handful of one-term presidents whose pre-presidential accomplishments did not lead to successful presidencies. Other examples are John Adams, John Quincy Adams and Herbert Hoover.

Buchanan served in both houses of Congress, and as secretary of state. He also held diplomatic posts in Russia and the United Kingdom.

Here is a post about Buchanan on one of my favorite blogs.

Oh, and the bachelor thing, what's that all about?

Richard Brookhiser, in his 2002 book about John Adams and his descendants, entitled America's First Dynasty, describes Buchanan as a "gracious, gutless homosexual". Those adjectives are interesting, but are not my reason for quoting that passage. That's the first time I remember seeing a reference to Buchanan's sexual orientation in the form of a statement of fact, rather than speculation.

Here is a discussion of that topic, with less certainty than that shown by Brookhiser.

I too have done the Buchanan house tour described in that article. I didn't confront the tour guide as directly as James Loewen did. But I did skeptically note the just-couldn't-find-the-right-girl tone of the tour narration.

No comments: