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Bosom Friends: The Intimate World of James Buchanan and William Rufus King

ISBN : 9780190914592

Thomas J. Balcerski
320 ページ
156 x 235 mm

The friendship of the bachelor politicians James Buchanan (1791-1868) of Pennsylvania and William Rufus King (1786-1853) of Alabama has excited much speculation through the years. Why did neither marry? Might they have been gay? Or was their relationship a nineteenth-century version of the modern-day "bromance"?

In Bosom Friends: The Intimate World of James Buchanan and William Rufus King, Thomas J. Balcerski explores the lives of these two politicians and discovers one of the most significant collaborations in American political history. He traces the parallels in the men's personal and professional lives before elected office, including their failed romantic courtships and the stories they told about them.
Unlikely companions from the start, they lived together as congressional messmates in a Washington, DC, boardinghouse and became close confidantes. Around the nation's capital, the men were mocked for their effeminacy and perhaps their sexuality, and they were likened to Siamese twins. Over time, their intimate friendship blossomed into a significant cross-sectional political partnership. Balcerski examines Buchanan's and King's contributions to the Jacksonian political agenda, manifest destiny, and the increasingly divisive debates over slavery, while contesting interpretations that the men lacked political principles and deserved blame for the breakdown of the union. He closely narrates each man's rise to national prominence, as William Rufus King was elected vice-president in 1852 and James Buchanan the nation's fifteenth president in 1856, despite the political gossip that circulated about them.
While exploring a same-sex relationship that powerfully shaped national events in the antebellum era, Bosom Friends demonstrates that intimate male friendships among politicians were-and continue to be-an important part of success in American politics.


Introduction: Remembering
Chapter 1: Leavening, 1786-1819
Chapter 2: Hardening, 1820-1834
Chapter 3: Messing, 1834-1840
Chapter 4: Wooing, 1840-1844
Chapter 5: Ministering, 1844-1848
Chapter 6: Running, 1848-1853
Chapter 7: Presiding, 1853-1868
Epilogue: Preserving
Appendix A: Washington Residences of James Buchanan and William Rufus King (1834-1853)
Appendix B: Percentage Correlation of Roll Call Votes of James Buchanan with Senators of the Bachelor's Mess, 23rd to 28th Congresses (1834-1844)
Appendix C: Calendar of Correspondence of James Buchanan / Harriet Lane Johnston and William Rufus King / Catherine Margaret Ellis (1837-1868)


Thomas J. Balcerski is an assistant professor of history at Eastern Connecticut State University.