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PRESIDENT JAMES BUCHANAN - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 09/26/1822 - DOCUMENT 5235

 

JAMES BUCHANAN
Three years after the death (and rumored suicide) the woman who had broken off her engagement to him, Buchanan - newly elected to Congress - writes about finding a residence in Washington. Buchanan never married, and lived for 15 years with Alabama Senator Rufus King. Some modern scholars argue that Buchanan was America's first gay President.
Autograph Letter Signed: "James Buchanan" as Congressman, 1p, 7¾x9¾. Lancaster, 1822 September 26. In his first term in Congress, 31-year-old Buchanan writes to Stephen Pleasanton Esq., Washington. After thanking Pleasanton for his help in obtaining a patent for David Smith, whose name was incorrectly written "Daniel" on the receipt, Buchanan continues: "It is my intention at present to take lodgings in some part of the city near your residence. As I shall not be able to leave this place for Washington before the middle of December it is probable that I may then be able to select a more agreeable boarding house than if I were there the first day of the Session. At that time the misses will all be formed...." Integral leaf addressed by Buchanan to: "Stephen Pleasanton Esquire/5th Auditor/Washington City". Postmarked: "FREE" and "LANC. PA SEP 27", the "27" in holograph. Admitted to the bar in 1812, Buchanan ran for office in 1814 and served two years in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (1815-1816) before resuming his law practice in Lancaster. During the summer of 1819, the 28-year-old lawyer courted 23-year-old Anne Coleman of Lancaster and they planned to wed, but they quarreled and Anne abruptly broke off the engagement. She died suddenly in December. It was known that her father blamed Buchanan for her death, and refused to allow his attendance at her funeral; there were rumors of suicide by overdose. Buchanan always professed his love for Anne Coleman, and never married. Buchanan was sworn in as Congressman in 1821 and wrote this letter in 1822, when he had decided to move to Washington, D.C. rather than commute from Lancaster. For 15 years, he lived in Washington with Alabama Senator Rufus King (elected as Pierce's VP, but deceased shortly after the election). Andrew Jackson called Buchanan and King "Miss Nancy and Aunt Fancy," while another contemporary called them "Mr. and Mrs. Buchanan." In a 2012 essay, sociologist Jim Loewen wrote, "There can be no doubt that James Buchanan was gay, before, during, and after his four years in the White House. Moreover, the nation knew it, too - he was not far into the closet." Others dispute this claim, arguing that the flowery language of intimacy was often used to describe male friendships in the 19th century. Harriet Lane, Buchanan's niece, acted as First Lady during the Buchanan Presidency (1857-1861). Fragile, worn, folds. 2¼-inch horizontal tear at lower blank left. 4-inch vertical tear at fold touches some text (all intact). 7½x1½-inch shading at upper margin touches text. Upper left edge torn. Integral leaf, creased with above tears only in blank areas.


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PRESIDENT JAMES BUCHANAN  


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PRESIDENT JAMES BUCHANAN
Born: April 23, 1791 in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania
Died: June 1, 1868 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania





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