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Annotated Bibliography: Was Abraham Lincoln Gay?

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A common problem in academia exists: disparaging claims based on their seemingly silly premises is not an intellectually honest approach. It is vitally important that, when extreme claims are made, sufficient evidence and research must be presented to either support the claim or prove it wrong if it seems there is any semblance of truth behind it. This sample annotated bibliography explores the infamous question of whether Abraham Lincoln was gay.

Determining whether or not Abraham Lincoln was gay

Adams, Cecil. "Was Abraham Lincoln gay?" The Straight Dope. N.p., 2 Apr. 2004. Web. 5 Dec. 2013. http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2502/was-abraham-lincoln-gay.

In the article “Was Abraham Lincoln Gay?” By Adam Cecil, the author issues a response to a question written by a frequenter of the site. The question asks if the assertion of the Log Cabin Republicans, that Abraham Lincoln was indeed homosexual, is entirely valid. The author responds by elucidating that, despite the myriad of historic writings and journal entries by both close associates and even Lincoln himself hinting at this supposed disposition, there still remains a lack of concrete evidence to the claims that Abraham Lincoln was gay.

Brookhiser, Richard. "Was Lincoln Gay?" The New York Times 9 Jan. 2005: n. pag. The New York Times. Web. 4 Dec. 2013.

Richard Brookhiser wrote this editorial piece for the New York Times as a critical analysis and preview of C.A. Tripp’s book “The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln.” In the article, Brookhiser explains that the author had died prior to the release of the book, leaving only the finished manuscript and never allowing time to fix any of the potential flaws in his research and sources. The author contends that, no matter what his sexual orientation, Abraham Lincoln was still a remarkable man who had remarkable achievements.

Donald, David Herbert. "We are Lincoln men": Abraham Lincoln and his friends. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003. Print.

David Herbert Donald’s book “We are Lincoln men: Abraham Lincoln and his friends” is a biography of Abraham Lincoln, told through the eyes of his closest associates. While the book does not deal primarily with the question of whether or not Abraham Lincoln was gay, it does gloss over it in an attempt to lend real credence to the idea that Lincoln may, in fact, have been homosexual. According to William Herndon, Lincoln’s Illinois Law Partner of 16 years, Lincoln:

“was the most reticent and mostly secretive man that ever existed: he never opened his whole soul to any man."

Fudge, Tom. "Our Gay President?" KPBS. N.p., 26 Sept. 2010. Web. 5 Dec. 2013. http://www.kpbs.org/news/2010/oct/26/our-gay-president/.

This article, written by Tom Fudge of KBPS, is an interview with author Dorin Kearns Goodwin (“Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln) on the subject of whether or not Abraham Lincoln was gay. According to Kearns Goodwin, the assertion that Abraham Lincoln was gay primarily comes from a basic misunderstanding of 19th-century life and manners.

People during the Civil War era had different mannerisms. She contends that what would seem to be daily protocol in the eyes of a man from the 19th century would seem quite homoerotic to a man in the 21st century, especially because the man in the 21st century has had far more exposure to that type of lifestyle (usually through stereotypes and the media) than the 19th century man.

Harris, Paul. "A Republican hero, but was Abe Lincoln gay?" The Observer. Guardian News and Media, 18 Dec. 2004. Web. 5 Dec. 2013. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/dec/19/books.artsandhumanities.

Harris discusses the new book called “The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln” by C.A. Tripp, who was a former researcher for Alfred Kinsey. The book divulges letters between Lincoln and Speed which may unveil an intimate relationship. The book’s findings have been disputed by another researcher, David Donald, making this a political and relevant book on this controversial subject.

Johnson, Martin P. "Did Abraham Lincoln Sleep with His Bodyguard? Another Look at the Evidence." Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association 27.2 (2006): n. pag. The University of Michigan. Web. 4 Dec. 2013.

Author Martin P. Johnson, a writer for the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, has written this editorial piece as both an analysis of the question of whether or not Abraham Lincoln was gay, and as a summarized review of C.A. Tripp’s manuscript “The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln.” Examining several sources of evidence both included in C.A.

There were no gay rights during Lincoln's presidency, meaning he may have hidden out of fear. On the other hand, the author asserts that the popular tales told by Lincoln’s contemporaries through their journals have been scandalized and that, while there may be truth to them, it is not these sources, but a primary source from whence the information was born, that would be of interest as concrete evidence in the quest for an answer to the question, “was Abraham Lincoln gay?”

Lloyd, Carol. "Was Lincoln Gay?." Salon. N.p., 30 Apr. 1999. Web. 5 Dec. 2013. http://www.salon.com/1999/04/30/lincoln/.

Carol Lloyd wrote this periodical for Salon magazine back in 1999, when the question of whether or not Lincoln was gay was less a question posed by random citizens and more relegated to the dark corners of scholarly articles and speculation. This is the article that, by all accounts, gave the hypothesis popular credence, as very many of the sources in this annotated bibliography have cited this article and the sources within as primary evidence either for or against the idea that Abraham Lincoln was homosexual.

Rhue, Ph.D., Sylvia. "A Family History Provides More Evidence That Lincoln Was Gay." The Huffington Post [New York] 26 Nov. 2012: n. pag. The Huffington Post. Web. 4 Dec. 2013.

Sylvia Rhue, Ph.D. writes in an editorial for the Huffington post that Abraham Lincoln’s ambiguous relationships with several men over the course of his lifetime is proof enough to assert that Lincoln was actually gay. She goes on to note:

“The studied impulse to make Lincoln absolutely heterosexual reflects a discernible societal discomfort with the complexities of human sexuality and sexual orientation, as well as deeply embedded streaks of homophobia.”

Additionally, she cites the long-held belief that Thomas Jefferson had been sleeping with one of his slaves as once just a myth but proven after further discussion and research on the subject. Additionally, she provides a potential confidential insight into the possible answer to the question of Abraham Lincoln’s sexuality, when she relates the story told to her by Rev. Cindi Love, the executive director of Soulforce. She says:

“I have been researching Lincoln and found a lot about his relationships with men, and I am getting this from a many sources,"

I told her. "But I am puzzled about one thing: William Herndon has not mentioned or written anything that would indicate that Lincoln was gay."

Rev. Love replies, "Well, here is the missing piece of your puzzle. My maiden name is Herndon. William Herndon was my great-great-uncle, and he was gay, and he was Lincoln's lover"

She went on to talk about how this information was handed down from generation to generation in the Herndon family.

Thompson, W. Scott. "Was Lincoln Gay?."History News Network. George Mason University, n.d. Web. 3 Dec. 2013. http://hnn.us/article/96.

An essay written for the History New Network, sponsored by George Mason University and written by the head of the Log Cabin Republican political action committee, W. Scott Thompson, asserts that there is overwhelming evidence that President Abraham Lincoln was undoubtedly homosexual. He references Lincolns ambiguous bonds with men, his lack of noted attraction to women, his decidedly “bad” marriage to Mary Todd Lincoln and his characteristics that fall somewhere over the line into femininity on the spectrum, not only by 21st century standards but often enough by 19th century standards as well.

Tripp, C. A., and Lewis Gannett. The intimate world of Abraham Lincoln. New York: Free Press, 2005. Print.

In his final written manuscript before his death, author C.A. Tripp, protégé to the late Alfred Kinsey, wrote a book entitled “The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln.” In the book, Tripp opines that Abraham Lincoln was assuredly homosexual, and cites the now familiar evidence and reasons as to why that may be.

Tripp also believes there were many factors that kept Lincoln from exposing his sexual attraction to men. One, people during the Civil War were not as apt to accept homosexuals, especially as their leader. Another reason was that Lincoln was married and feared hurting his wife.

The evidence put forth in the pages of this book analyze President Lincoln’s own journal entries and those of his contemporaries, comparing and contrasting in order to cross examine what is and is not reliably factual, and considers the personal opinions of many of Lincoln’s closes friends and associates regarding his character.



Ultius, Inc. "Annotated Bibliography: Was Abraham Lincoln Gay?." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. Ultius Blog, 07 Oct. 2014. https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/annotated-bibliography-was-abraham-lincoln-gay.html

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Ultius, Inc. (2014, October 07). Annotated Bibliography: Was Abraham Lincoln Gay?. Retrieved from Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services, https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/annotated-bibliography-was-abraham-lincoln-gay.html

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Ultius, Inc. "Annotated Bibliography: Was Abraham Lincoln Gay?." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. October 07, 2014. https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/annotated-bibliography-was-abraham-lincoln-gay.html.

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Ultius, Inc. "Annotated Bibliography: Was Abraham Lincoln Gay?." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. October 07, 2014. https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/annotated-bibliography-was-abraham-lincoln-gay.html.

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