Was Abraham Lincoln Our First Gay President?

David Derickson

Captain David Derickson

David Derickson, a close companion of Lincoln’s. Image Source: Pinterest

From 1862 to 1863, President Lincoln was accompanied by a bodyguard from the Pennsylvania Bucktail Brigade named Captain David Derickson. Unlike Joshua Speed, Derickson was a prodigious father, marrying twice and siring ten children. Like Speed, however, Derickson became a close friend of the president and also shared his bed while Mary Todd was away from Washington. According to an 1895 regimental history written by one of Derickson’s fellow officers:

“Captain Derickson, in particular, advanced so far in the President’s confidence and esteem that, in Mrs. Lincoln’s absence, he frequently spent the night at his cottage, sleeping in the same bed with him, and — it is said — making use of His Excellency’s night-shirt!”

Another source, the well-connected wife of Lincoln’s naval adjundant, wrote in her diary: “Tish says, ‘there is a Bucktail Soldier here devoted to the President, drives with him, & when Mrs L. is not home, sleeps with him.’ What stuff!”

Derickson’s association with Lincoln ended with his promotion and transfer in 1863.

Ecce Homo?

Tim Hinrichs And Alex Hinrichs

Image Source: Associated Press

If Abraham Lincoln had wanted to leave conflicting evidence behind for historians, he could hardly have done a better job — even Lincoln’s stepmother Sarah thought he didn’t like girls. He also wrote this bit of comic verse, which turns on – of all things – gay marriage:

For Reuben and Charles have married two girls,
But Billy has married a boy.
The girls he had tried on every side,
But none he could get to agree;
All was in vain, he went home again,
And since that he’s married to Natty.

Richard Stockton
Richard Stockton is a freelance science and technology writer from Sacramento, California.
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