The Only President of the United States Who Was a Lifelong Bachelor

December 12, 2021

Portrait of James Buchanan, 15th President of the United States

James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States, isn’t a president you probably have heard much about, but he does have one legacy that another sitting president hasn’t repeated. Buchanan never married and has been the only president to remain a lifelong bachelor.

Why didn’t Buchanan ever marry? Historians aren’t exactly sure, but his personal life was a subject of controversy. Buchanan was once engaged to a woman named Anne Coleman when he was in his late 20s, but her father was against the marriage. There is a belief that Buchanan had an affair while engaged to Coleman, and she supposedly found out about the affair and broke off the engagement. 

Coleman died after the break-up due to unknown reasons. It’s unclear the exact cause of death, but it was thought to be from suicide or illness because of her split with Buchanan.

Buchanan wasn’t allowed to attend her funeral because her family blamed him for her death. He remained a bachelor for the rest of his life, but there were other claims that Buchanan was, in fact, gay. 

He was friends with William Rufus King, who later became the vice-president under the administration of Franklin Pierce. King and Buchanan lived together for a period of time while they were both in Congress in Washington. They received the unflattering monikers of Miss Nancy and Aunt Fancy even though nothing beyond a friendship had ever been affirmed.

Buchanan’s 27-year-old niece, Harriet Lane, acted as the First Lady or “Hostess” during his term as President. When she was 12 years old, Buchanan became her guardian after Buchanan’s sister had died. 

Buchanan had a less than stellar presidential career and served only one term. Near the end of his term, South Carolina seceded from the Union in 1860, and Buchanan did little to prevent the future succession by other states. He died in 1868, eight years after leaving office.

Sources: History.com, Britannica, WhiteHouse.gov

About the author 

Daniel Ganninger - The writer, editor, and chief lackey of Knowledge Stew, the author of the Knowledge Stew line of great trivia books, and editor of Fact World and the Knowledge Stew sister site on Medium. I hope you find things here to annoy those around you with your new found knowledge.

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