Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Abe Lincoln and his sexuality

Expand Messages
  • Gregory
    From CNN All the president s men By Michele Orecklin Monday, January 10, 2005 Posted: 3:02 PM EST (2002 GMT) It s not something you see in John Ford movies,
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 10, 2005
    • 0 Attachment
      From CNN
      All the president's men
      By Michele Orecklin
      Monday, January 10, 2005 Posted: 3:02 PM EST (2002 GMT)

      It's not something you see in John Ford movies, but in the 1800s it
      was common for men -- frontier-taming, campfire-building,
      heterosexual men--to share a bed.

      Mattresses were an indulgence, central heating nonexistent and, for
      travelers, private lodging scarce. Double bunking was so common that
      it rarely aroused questions of one's sexual orientation.

      But a book due out this week asserts that Abraham Lincoln engaged in
      the practice rather too often and too enthusiastically to avoid the
      conclusion that he was homosexual.

      In "The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln" (Free Press; 295 pages)
      sex researcher C.A. Tripp argues that the four years Lincoln slept in
      the same bed with his friend Joshua Speed when the two lived in
      Springfield, Illinois, as bachelors far surpassed what was common or
      necessary.

      Tripp also cites accounts from Washington wags of that period who
      noted that the 16th President regularly shared a bed with David
      Derickson, one of his guards, whenever his wife Mary Todd was out of
      town. Tripp throws in a handful of other bunkmates, Lincoln's bawdy
      sense of humor and his stormy relationship with his wife to argue
      that the Lincoln bedroom was the site of behavior surprising from the
      founder of a party that wants to amend the Constitution to ban same-
      sex marriage. (Have the Log Cabin Republicans known this all along?)

      But in assembling his data, Tripp is more persuasive in highlighting
      the rigidity of modern attitudes toward male friendships than in
      proving anything about Lincoln's sexuality. Suggestions that Lincoln
      was gay have existed for years. In his 1926 biography, the poet Carl
      Sandburg wrote that the President and Speed possessed "a streak of
      lavender and spots soft as May violets"--a lyrical though curious
      phrase that seems to suggest something unmasculine.

      Lincoln was by most accounts difficult to know; he struggled with
      depression and appeared more comfortable around men than women. But
      Tripp, who worked with Alfred Kinsey in the 1940s and died in 2003
      two weeks after turning in his manuscript, sniffs out sexuality in
      the most innocuous exchanges, such as an 1841 letter from Lincoln to
      Speed after the latter moved to Kentucky.

      "It begins without a single personal item," Tripp recounts, "but
      drones on in a 1,575-word account of a local murder trial. Hard to
      find anything less personal than that, yet it is precisely this kind
      of impersonal recounting of some irrelevant bit of news that is often
      resorted to by distraught lovers who are contending with some strain
      and who thus choose to recount details from a neutral territory as
      they wait out a storm that swirls about them."

      Absent anything more incriminating, however, such as accounts by
      someone who saw the two having sex or expressions of carnal desire
      from Lincoln or Speed, it's hard to view the letter as anything other
      than a description of a murder trial.

      In another instance, Tripp uncovers an excerpt from the diary of
      Virginia Woodbury Fox, a Washington socialite during Lincoln's day.
      Writing of rumors that Lincoln and Derickson slumbered together in
      the White House, Fox exclaims, "What Stuff!" To Tripp, the comment
      denotes shock at Lincoln's behavior, but it could just as easily be
      construed as disgust at hearsay.

      Most of Tripp's evidence is of a similar standard. He does
      demonstrate the fierce attachment between Lincoln and Speed, quoting
      letters in which Lincoln wrote of his distress over their physical
      separation, habitually signed with "Yours forever."

      But Anthony Rotundo, author of "American Manhood: Transformations in
      Masculinity from the Revolution to the Modern Era," says that such
      intimate communication was not unusual for men at that time. Rotundo
      says it was socially acceptable for men before marriage to
      enjoy "romantic friendships" that involved sex only about as often as
      do male friendships today.

      "These were not relationships people had to hide," says Rotundo. He
      also points out that 150 years ago, the notion that someone would
      identify him- or herself as homosexual had not yet developed, making
      it difficult to retroactively shoehorn a 19th century man into a 21st
      century definition.

      "There was a spectrum of relationships," explains Rotundo. "You
      didn't have to say, 'I'm on this side or that,' as you do today."

      And what if Lincoln was gay? Does it illuminate anything about his
      decisions as President?

      Tripp admits that even if Lincoln did hide his sexuality, we cannot
      assume it made him sympathetic to outsiders, thus that it was a
      factor in his decision to free the slaves. But he argues that Lincoln
      is "too central a figure in history to keep obscuring basic facts of
      his life."

      Unfortunately, Tripp's attempt to show Lincoln was gay does little to
      set the record straight.

      With reporting by Andrea Sachs in New York.
    • Ram Lau
      A liberal gay guy from the North would never have a chance to become the US President in our time. Ram
      Message 2 of 3 , Jan 10, 2005
      • 0 Attachment
        A liberal gay guy from the North would never have a chance to become
        the US President in our time.

        Ram
      • Gregory
        A gay man from anywhere would have no chance thanks to the rabid right-wing nuts. Our country has a lot of maturing to do. Gregory
        Message 3 of 3 , Jan 10, 2005
        • 0 Attachment
          A gay man from anywhere would have no chance thanks to the rabid
          right-wing nuts. Our country has a lot of maturing to do.

          Gregory

          --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, "Ram Lau" <ramlau@y...> wrote:
          >
          > A liberal gay guy from the North would never have a chance to become
          > the US President in our time.
          >
          > Ram
        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.