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Sunday, 30 June 2013

James Buchanan

James Buchanan (1791-1868) was the only unmarried president of the United States. His orphaned niece, Harriet Lane, served as White House hostess.

Buchanan was engaged for a time to a certain Anne Colman. However, in 1819, after a fight between the pair, she called off the engagement. Anne Colman died later that year in what some have said was a suicide.

While his biographers argue that Buchanan was asexual or celibate, several writers have put forth arguments that he was homosexual or bisexual. A source of this interest has been the relationship Buchanan had with his close friend William Rufus King (who became Vice President under Franklin Pierce). Andrew Jackson nicknamed the two Miss Nancy and Aunt Fancy.

Both the largest and the smallest dogs to live in the White House were during the tenure of President James Buchanan. The dogs in question were a Newfoundland named Lara and a tiny toy terrier named Punch.

James Buchanan, owned some elephants presented to him by the King of Siam, and a pair of bald eagles.

President James Buchanan got the nickname "Ten-Cent Jimmy" after he claimed that 10¢ a day was a fair wage for manual laborers.

James Buchanan (1859) by George Healy as seen in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC

Buchanan was certainly a good host. When England's Prince of Wales came to visit in the fall of 1860, so many guests came with him, it's said the president slept in the hallway.

James Buchanan was morally opposed to slavery, but believed it was protected by the constitution, and so  he consistently bought slaves with his own money in Washington, D.C., and then set them free in Pennsylvania.

Buchanan caught a cold in May 1868, which quickly worsened due to his advanced age. He died on June 1, 1868, from respiratory failure at the age of 77 at his home at Wheatland and was interred in Woodward Hill Cemetery in Lancaster.


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