Our lone bachelor president, James Buchanan was the subject of much of the same sexuality speculation that today swirls (counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere) around Larry Craig—whose names make a cute couple.
Buchanan was once expelled from Dickinson College for an “incident at an outhouse” in which he offered to “make this a two-holer” while a classmate awaited his exit. The future president was soon readmitted after a private meeting with the headmaster.
As Senator from Pennsylvania, Buchanan was often seen in the Senate cloakroom near the chamber pot normally reserved for Henry Clay tapping his foot and orating “wanna share?”
While president, Buchanan once stood throughout a cabinet meeting after a "problem in the privy." “Had a little trouble with the corncob,” he allegedly explained. “Let's just say Kansas isn’t all that’s bleeding.”
Yet Buchanan biographer Erasmus Swisher pooh poohs drawing too many conclusions from such anecdotes. “There’s no hard evidence,” he says. “Just some semi-erect speculation. True, Buchanan made a lot of references to 'close friendships' in his letters, but that was common usage at the time.” His closest friendship was with Alabama Senator and Vice President William Rufus King with whom he lived for 15 years. Buchanan called him “my closest of close male friends” and “my Dearest Companion” and “my Best Unto The Topmost, or BUTT Buddy.”
Yet Swisher insists we can’t read modern ideas into historic words as when Buchanan wrote to King “my face awaits your dough.” This is actually a reference to doughboys or Northerners with Southern sympathies. And “would that I could choke on your fluids” is simply Buchanan’s wish to alleviate King’s tubercular lungs. “Like Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemings,” Swisher wrote in 1996 “we’ll never know for sure.”