1786-03-07

On this date WILLIAM RUFUS KING, the U.S. Representative from North Carolina, Senator from Alabama, and the thirteenth Vice President of the United States was born (d. 1853).  Historians have argued about the extremely close relationship that King had with President James Buchanan. Mostly the heterosexual historians like looking the other way or whistling to distraction that there was nothing going on at all between these two.

But the two were rather inseparable. They shared a summer cottage outside of D.C. during the summers of Buchanan’s presidency (interestingly right across the path from the cottage Lincoln would use during the Civil War). Buchanan is widely considered the worst American President (before Trump, who rescued Bush) for acceding to the demands of the Southern pro-slavery forces. Now why would a Northerner president from Pennsylvania have acted that way? Might it have had something to do with his attachment with the slave-owning Southerner King?

In any case, people noticed.  Buchanan and King’s close relationship prompted Andrew Jackson to refer to King as “Miss Nancy” and Buchanan as “Aunt Fancy,” while Aaron V. Brown spoke of the two as “Buchanan and his wife.” Further, some of the contemporary press also speculated about Buchanan and King’s relationship. If there was nothing happening, why did Buchanan and King’s nieces destroy their uncles’ correspondence after their deaths?  We know why of course.  Surviving letters illustrate “the affection of a special friendship,” and Buchanan wrote of his “communion” with his housemate.

King County, in Washington State (Seattle’s county) was was originally named after King and was recently changed to honor Dr. Martin Luther King.