The Bachelor Democrats: Unmarried Candidates for President, 1856–84

Thursday, January 6, 2022: 1:30 PM
Rhythms Ballroom 2 (Sheraton New Orleans)
Thomas J. Balcerski, Eastern Connecticut State University
Three presidential candidates ran in American history ran as lifelong bachelors—James Buchanan in 1856, Samuel Tilden in 1876, and Grover Cleveland in 1884. Significantly, all three candidates ran as Democrats. This paper will consider the persistence of unmarried presidential candidates in the Democratic Party’s history and ask questions about their wider significance to LGBTQ+ history? How did non-normative forms of marital life play out in the partisan politics of the nineteenth century? Was sexual suppression (i.e., the closet) a factor in each of their lives? And when and why did bachelorhood disappear as a viable characteristic of presidential candidates?
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