Honest Abe Was Gay
BY Charles Kaiser
April 28 2009 12:00 AM ET
Opposing historians who
doubt Lincoln's bisexuality only bolster Tripp's claims
with the lameness of their arguments. Consider this, from David
Herbert Donald, the author of We Are Lincoln Men, who tries to
explain away the mountain of evidence by quoting a single
psychoanalyst: "My judgment is strongly influenced by the
opinion of Charles B. Strozier, the psychoanalyst and
historian, who concludes that if the friendship [with Speed]
had been sexual, Lincoln would have become a different man. He
would ... have been 'a bisexual at best, torn between
worlds, full of shame, confused, and hardly likely to end up in
politics.'" But Tripp proves that Lincoln was never a
prisoner of the conventional wisdom on any subject--and there
is nothing in his life to suggest that his own bisexuality
would have made him ashamed.
As Michael Chesson
writes, the unspoken credo of almost all the other Lincoln
biographers was "don't ask, don't tell, don't
pursue." The one exception was Carl Sandburg, who, as
Tripp reminds us, found "streaks of lavender" in both
Lincoln and Speed. After this book, no future historian will be
able to ignore those violet streaks again.
Eight score years ago
Excerpts from letters
and diaries written by Abraham Lincoln and his contemporaries
make the case for his same-sex attractions.
"It now thrills me
with joy to hear you say you are 'far happier than you ever
expected to be....' I am not going beyond the truth when I
tell you that the short space it took me to read your last
letter gave me more pleasure than the total sum of all I have
enjoyed since the fatal first of Jany--'41."
--Joshua Speed, writing
to Lincoln in 1842, after Speed's marriage and shortly
'there is a Bucktail soldier [Colonel Derickson] here
devoted to the President, drives with him, and when Mrs. L. is
not home, sleeps with him.' What stuff!"
--From the diary of
Virginia Woodbury Fox, wife of an assistant Navy secretary,
November 16, 1862
salutation in his letters to Speed
"You ask me if I
have seen your friend Lincoln. I answer yes repeatedly and
never without the conversation turning upon you.... He has
taken a greater interest in you than I ever knew him to
manifest in any one before."
--A letter from Col.
John Cook to Col. Elmer Ellsworth, a favorite of Lincoln's,