Talk:James Buchanan

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Buchanan's sexuality[edit]

I visited this page today and was unpleasantly surprised to find that the section on Buchanan's sexuality had been cut out of the article. A reader to this page who has no prior knowledge of Buchanan would have no idea of the modern-day debate about his sexuality, which has been by far the most active area of recent Buchanan debate, since, let's face it, the book on him as a terrible President was written long ago. (Such a reader would also wonder why the picture of William King is in that section, since the text of the article as I found it gives no clue.) Buchanan's sexuality has been discussed by reliable sources, including a biographer. Evidence for his homosexuality lies in primary sources including his own writing (the "go a-wooing" letter). And it is factually incorrect to state that this section violates any Wikipedia policy. Just out of curiosity I went through and checked the biographies of six other historical figures whose sexuality has been questioned: Kings Edward II, Richard I and Richard II of England, J. Edgar Hoover, Cary Grant, and Eleanor Roosevelt. All of them contained material addressing the possibility that the subjects of the article were homosexual. This is clearly something that Wikipedia can and does talk about. Vidor (talk) 18:11, 24 February 2013 (UTC)

I'm glad you did that. The section was based on the work of numerous scholars and is important. Most Historians tend to agree with Baker-- he was not sexual at all and people looked at him (as did Jackson) like a fussy maiden aunt. Rjensen (talk) 22:19, 24 February 2013 (UTC)

Sorry, but "modern day debate" is irrelevant. Wikipedia is a recitation of facts, not opinion. Furthermore, Wikipedia seeks consensus. There is obviously no consensus on the matter, as seen in the long discussion above. Including the quote from a modern writer that "there can be no doubt" is simply unacceptable. There is considerable doubt, since no one who makes the claim knew the man in question. any thoughts on Buchanan's sexuality are speculation. Vague terms like went "a wooing" are not proof of anything. As said by several others above, Wikipedia is not a place for original research or pushing someone's agenda. The passages must be removed according to Wikipedia policy.Chagallophile (talk) 15:54, 16 March 2013 (UTC)

The notion that modern day debate is irrelevant is pretty amazing. I would imagine that the number of articles on Wikipedia that include "modern-day debate" is vast. The Abraham Lincoln article has a section entitled "Historical reputation". So does the Thomas Jefferson article, which also has a section on the two centuries of debate about him and Sally Hemings. The Loewen quote that "there can be no doubt" is entirely appopriate--of course there is doubt, but Loewen (who is in fact a reliable source, sorry) represents a particular point of view. This is not "original research" because it is not being done by Wikipedia editors. No "agenda" is being pushed, unless it's one being pushed by Chagallophile. The article is not against Wikipedia policy, and as I noted above, similar sections like this are in many articles. This, once again, is a part of Buchanan's life that has drawn a great deal of attention and has been addressed by reliable sources, even biographers. If something is relevant enough that a biographer is motivated to address it then it should be in this article. I'd be happy to join in any conflict resolution thread out there as I'm confident that this passage will pass muster, as similar passages have passed muster over and over again in many articles about historical figures. Vidor (talk) 21:59, 16 March 2013 (UTC)

The issue at stake is consensus. There is no consensus on the subject of Buchanan's personal life. Please take sa look at Wikipedia's article, "What Wikipedia is not." Chagallophile (talk) 17:34, 17 March 2013 (UTC)

The required consensus is between editors. It doesn't mean that articles can only include material about which there is universal consensus. William Avery (talk) 18:40, 17 March 2013 (UTC)
Thank you. As I said above, I'm sure this material will stand scrutiny, as it is NPOV, it is sourced, it is important, and it is similar to material in several other artcles, as I have noted above. I know "What Wikipedia is not", and it is not only things that Chagallophile finds pleasant. Vidor (talk) 23:18, 19 March 2013 (UTC)
I agree with you and support its inclusion. There will always be historical discussion as to how events/ individuals are to be interpreted. We do not need to include only material where consensus has been reached - otherwise we'd find 90% of historical articles empty! Rather, we must ensure we have the right balance in handling the contrasting material. Contaldo80 (talk) 09:25, 20 March 2013 (UTC)

Have to agree with Chagallophile on this. The archives on this article show objections to the sexuality claim - and the Loewen piece specifically - going back nine years. The phrase "there can be no doubt" about something Loewen did not witness violates Wikipedia guidelines about soapbox, and the title of his book, "Lies Across America" suggests it is not a reliable source. Again, people have been objecting on this page for nine years. If the required consensus is between editors, as William Avery suggests, that consensus has never existed. I'm going to add another NPOV tag for the sectionOnonuofk (talk) 15:50, 20 March 2013 (UTC)

Before automatically reverting, read the section as it stands on this time stamp: it includes reference to William King without making a blanket statement about Buchanan that cannot be proven. I submit this is a proper compromise.Ononuofk (talk) 16:04, 20 March 2013 (UTC)

Well, no, that is not an acceptable compromise. The article as it stands does not explain why a picture of William King is included in an article. It does not explain why Aaron Brown is quoted as referring to Buchanan and King as a married couple; it does not explain why Buchanan is quoted as writing in a letter that he will "go a-wooing" after King left him.

(Cont'd) I can find no reason for excluding the relevant material other than homophobia--a discomfort with homosexuality and a discomfort with the notion that we may well have had a gay president. (Or maybe a discomfort on the part of gay people that a president as bad as Buchanan may have been gay!) I have spelled out the justification for this material many times. It deals with a portion of Buchanan's life that continues to inspire scholarship and research. It has been addressed many times by numerous sources, including a biographer of Buchanan. It escapes me why the Loewen "there can be no doubt" quote is so problematic for people, when the article makes clear that in fact there is doubt. Loewen represents one school of thought. Buchanan's biographer, who is quoted, represents another. The article quotes both, thus adhering to NPOV. And as far as consensus goes, I will type this for at least the third time--I found six different historical figures whose sexuality has been questioned. Three kings of England, one First Lady, one famous bureaucrat, and one well known actor. All six of them had material, in their Wikipedia pages, addressing the possibility that they may have been homosexual. Just now I looked at a seventh: Greta Garbo. Guess what? It talks about how she may have been a lesbian. Let's look at an eighth: Barbara Stanwyck. Jackpot! Let's look at a ninth--Charlie Crist, who is still alive and denying he's a homosexual--but yes, Wikipedia mentions it. Larry Craig--that makes me 10 for 10. Leonardo da Vinci--11 for 11. And just as a bonus, the Lewis Carroll article includes material addressing whether or not he was a pedophile. I ask why the article on James Buchanan must be treated differently than just about any article out there. I ask why the consensus across Wikipedia that these articles suggest is not applied to this article. I also ask those individuals who keep deleting similar Buchanan material from this article to address this point. Vidor (talk) 17:36, 20 March 2013 (UTC)

Your thoughts are valid, as are the thoughts of other editors. There is legitimate dispute on this page going back a long time among many editors; thus a compromise is necessary. The article as it stands mentions Buchanan and King and the quotes of people who knew them in person. It omits specualtion of people who did not know them. Ononuofk (talk) 18:02, 20 March 2013 (UTC)

I agree fully with (talk). (talk) - I would also have more confidence in your contributions as an editor if you formally fully signed in as an editor. Contaldo80 (talk) 10:16, 21 March 2013 (UTC)

Wikipedia has always emphasized the idea of civility and Assume Good Faith. Those (in several sections above) who insist that Buchanan was gay write with a strident tone that is troubling, i.e: calling people homophobic, or saying "that makes me ten for ten" as if this was a contest. The opposing thoughts expressed are reasonable and polite, and a desire for compromise is appropriate. Insisting that no one is allowed to disagree with you is inappropriate.Closedthursday (talk) 19:52, 22 March 2013 (UTC)

  • I do not insist that Buchanan was gay. I do in fact believe he was gay, but the article (and I did not write the section in question, BTW, I merely restored it after it was improperly delted) adhered to NPOV and included an assessment from Buchanan's biographer dismissing the gay thesis. "That makes me ten for ten" is not said in the spirit of a "contest", it is a statement of fact demonstrating broad consensus regarding this kind of issue across many articles. I didn't have to hunt for ten examples; I thought of ten different figures and all ten (12, actually) had material to that effect in their Wikipedia entries. Vidor (talk) 18:06, 27 March 2013 (UTC)

I have edited pages on Cary Grant, Josephine Baker, and Anne Heche on this issue. In each of those cases (as with Greta Garbo and Charlie Crist) the speculation came from people who knew them, and the subjects in question could respond. Loewen never knew Buchanan, and Buchanan cannot respond to this claim. The quotes from Andrew Jackson and contemporaries can stay, but the Loewen quote must go. It is a website opinion without further citation and amounts to Loewen launching a personal crusade to out people who can never defend themselves. Wikipedia does not ask for any source available; it demands reliable sources, which Loewen is not.Catherinejarvis (talk) 18:03, 23 March 2013 (UTC) I mistakenly used the word vandalism on "View History" for this date. Made an effort to edit good faith additions, and condensed the information on Baker while leaving the source itself.Catherinejarvis (talk) 19:22, 23 March 2013 (UTC)

  • Homosexuality is something that one must "defend" against? Interesting choice of words there. I don't know the grounds on which one decides that James Loewen isn't a reliable source--Loewen is a Ph. D. and a published author (which means the "website opinion" claim above is also false). That being said, however, the article as it currently stands is acceptable. Don't understand the resistance to quoting James Loewen but his assessment is not critical to the article. Vidor (talk) 18:13, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
    • Thanks (talk), tried to tidy up the section by including some improved sources. I hope it reads a bit better now overall. I agree with you on Loewen, he is a respectable academic and can be quoted on historical biography. However, in the end I chose not to use the blog quote as I felt it was a little too long but added his line about Buchanan and King being 'siamese twins'. What I still want to do is find a supporting source which backs my understanding that "Aunt Nancy" was a 19th century euphemisim for an effeminate or homosexual man. Contaldo80 (talk) 09:11, 28 March 2013 (UTC)

Buchanan's sexuality: keep it.[edit]

Today I read a comment in the blogosphere that Buchanan was gay, so I came to Wikipedia to verify. From wikipedia I learned that there are several facts which hint that he may have been gay, and what those facts were. I learned that some scholars have made the argument. That's probably just about the right balance of information for a casual researcher like me who wasn't even entirely sure that Buchanan was the president immediately preceding Lincoln.

If the debate about the section remains ongoing, I suggest that all of the current information should be retained, including the list of "hints," and the names and arguments to the prominent scholars who have made the argument. The article does not need to come to a conclusion one way or another, just present the fact that there is a strain of thought, what the evidence is, and leave it at that. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2602:30a:c08c:a6f0:21c:b3ff:fec3:2572 (talkcontribs) 13:59, 20 July 2014‎

William R. King[edit]

Could someone more familiar with the Buchanan/King relationship restore relevant passages and sources to the William R. King article? It seems to have been scrubbed by User:Catherinejarvis. Woodshed (talk) 06:43, 24 June 2013 (UTC)

Done. Thanks for alerting. Contaldo80 (talk) 09:00, 24 June 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. Do you not think any of the material such as the Jackson or Brown quotes, or parts of the Loewen or Watson analyses, belong in the King article? Woodshed (talk) 09:38, 24 June 2013 (UTC)

Absolutely not. The speculation of people who did not know these men is not relevant. Loewen especially seems to be using historical figures to push an agenda of his own. I merely trimmed unsubstantiated gueshsing from the article. This is an encyclopedia, not a gossip column.Catherinejarvis (talk) 16:14, 24 June 2013 (UTC)

Could you please avoid suggesting that gay history is merely all about idle "gossip". That's an incredibly insulting thing to say. Contaldo80 (talk)
  • If powerbrokers, let alone voters, knew that Buchanan was gay, his political ascent would have been controversial, to say the very least. In fact, it's hard to see how he could have been elected at all given the attitudes of the time. Andrew Jackson also called John Quincy Adams a pimp. Jackson was known for making outrageous accusations, not for his gaydar. If you leave aside the innuendo from Jackson and his Tennessee clique, the remaining evidence can best be described as "underwhelming." This blog post gives the argument in greater detail. The Clever Boy (talk) 04:12, 6 March 2014 (UTC)
Underwhelming perhaps, but not beyond belief. We're just saying he might have been homosexual, not born on Mars. It's not that controversial surely?Contaldo80 (talk) 16:58, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
The blog cited above terminates Buchanan's letter at "... a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them", ironically mocking it as "scorching stuff", while omitting the remaining text, which contains: "... and should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection". If including this text wouldn't damage the blog's argument, the blog wouldn't bother to exclude it. The simple effort to omit this text, then, indicates that it IS scorching stuff (with no ironic quote-marks). Also, the blog applies the incorrect standard ("proof"), and mocks using the absence of evidence contrary to a fact as evidence of the fact. But many Presidents are deemed heterosexual without "proof", on nothing more than having behaved like a stereotypical heterosexual male, absent the production of contrary evidence. So the presumptive designation of "homosexual, pending further evidence" should be alllowed to stand on symmetrically weak evidence. (talk) 07:37, 27 June 2014 (UTC)Christopher L. Simpson

"... a personal crusade to out people who can never defend themselves. ..."?[edit]

The language "... a personal crusade to out people who can never defend themselves. ..." used by User talk:Catherinejarvis is offensive. Is being homosexual something you are "outed" for? User talk:Catherinejarvis notes that since Buchanan is dead he has no opportunity to rebut (if he was in fact heterosexual) the assertion that he was homosexual. Would she similarly protest the assertion that some other dead historical figure was heterosexual but, being dead, is unable to rebut (had they been homosexual) the assertion that they were heterosexual? The standard that should be applied to evidence of Buchanan's homosexuality is NOT that it should be (as two writers here opine) better than "gossip" or better than "underwhelming". The standard that should be applied to evidence of Buchanan's homosexuality is precisely the same standard as should be applied to evidence of any dead person's heterosexuality. If Wikipedia, relying only on "underwhelming gossip", reports on some dead person's presumed heterosexuality, then it must accept "underwhelming gossip" as the standard for reporting on Buchanan's possible homosexuality. If you believe that making a case for Buchanan's homosexuality requires stronger evidence than making a case for his heterosexuality or asexuality, then that is, by definition, bias. (talk) 06:13, 19 June 2014 (UTC)Christopher L. Simpson

Utah War[edit]

The Utah War section was clearly written by the Brethren and is comical in the extreme in it's attempt to eliminate the largest movement of the US Army between The Mexican War and The Civil War. The Buchanan administration was almost entirely consumed by the Utah situation in the opening months following inauguration. Kane was on his way out of the Valley with Brigham ready to burn it to the ground when word came of the demise of the northern escape route via the fall of Fort Limhi. Within 12 hours, realizing he was trapped forever on US Soil, he capitulated and sent a snotty letter to A.S. Johnston, leader of the US Expedition wintering over at Fort Bridger. It would take a Peace Commission dispatched by Buchanan to negotiate (without Kane's involvement or input) the passage of Johnston's 2500-strong army through the streets of Great Salt Lake City singing the folk song "One-Eyed Riley" on 26 June 1858. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:28, 1 February 2015‎ (UTC)

I think that he was rated the worst President should be put on here — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:37, 29 March 2015 (UTC)