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Was Abraham Lincoln a Homosexual?

Was Abraham Lincoln a Homosexual?

The rather staid world of Lincoln research was rocked when a book was published in 2003 asserting that Abraham Lincoln was a homosexual. It turns out that the claim is without substance, but one to which a hardcore minority of Lincoln bashers cling.

The rather staid world of Lincoln research was rocked when a book was published in 2003 asserting that Abraham Lincoln was a homosexual. It turns out that the claim is without substance, but one to which a hardcore minority of Lincoln bashers cling.

The author of the book, Charles Arthur Tripp, was a protégé of sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, whose own studies have been discredited as complete academic frauds. For examples, Kinsey stated that 10% of the population was homosexual based upon results of prison inmate samples – hardly representatives of society at large. The actual number is 1-2% if even that high.

So it is no surprise that someone like Tripp would make the obnoxious and unfounded claim that Lincoln was a homosexual. But, when we heard that someone like Texe Marrs believed the story, we decided to dig a little deeper.

The evidence for the claim is quite flimsy. Marrs himself stated that Lincoln’s voice was lispy and thus a sign to other homosexuals that he was one too. Tripp’s thesis rests on 2 gossip style references, possibly suggesting, but never stating, that Lincoln had sexual relations with his body guard Captain Derickson of the 150th Pennsylvania Regiment.

Before dealing with that drivel, we should note that the other basis for the allegation of Lincoln’s homosexuality was that Lincoln slept in the same bed with other men while he was on the legal circuit in Illinois. Even the CIA disinformation site Wikipedia admits argument that such sleeping arrangements were not uncommon for the time given that quarters were often constrained and that economic well being was not like it is today where every person has his own room, to say nothing of his own bed.

Returning to the Derickson story, it rests upon 2 documentary sources – the diary of Virginia Woodbury Fox who wrote on November 16, 1862,: "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!'"

The other written source is that of Captain Thomas Chamberlin, an officer of the same regiment of Captain Dickerson, the former of whom, in his 1895 book, History of the One Hundred and Fiftieth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Second Regiment, Bucktail Brigade, writes that, "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!"

Even on the face of it, Fox dismisses the allegation, and even then the reader has to assume that there was a homosexual context for “sleeps with him.” Martin P Johnson, writing in the scholarly article cited in our Reference section, dissects the 2 statements in great detail, demonstrating that they provide little to no substance to the allegation that Lincoln had sex with Derickson.

Although both men had families, it is not proof that they were not homosexual, as was the case with Winston Churchill who sired children for dynastic reasons, but it raises the bar for the claim.

Johnson traces the 2 writings, spaced 30+ years apart, to a common source, Captain Henry W Crotzer, a fellow officer with Derickson in the 150th regiment. While he admits that the case is not airtight, he persuasively argues that Crotzer was the common source for both Fox and Chamberlin. Thus there are not multiple independent attestations to the event as would be needed to take seriously the claim that Lincoln and Derickson were homosexually involved.

Johnson spends considerable time showing that the story related by Chamberlin, while interesting, fails to rise to the level of evidence required to make even a prima facie case for the Tripp thesis. In other words, everything else we know about Lincoln and his sexuality overwhelms the hypothesis of Tripp.

This tawdry case is yet another example of the squalid “scholarship” of Kinsey and his acolytes.  That anyone would take a Kinsey student seriously casts more aspersions on the reader than on the perpetrator which, in this case, was Tripp. As for Marrs, he should be ashamed of himself.

Supposedly some previously undiscovered writings related to Lincoln and Joshua Speed were produced by another faction of the homo-thesis, but these have thus far been generally dismissed as a hoax. Finally, a 10 panel conference of true Lincoln scholars and academics failed to convince a single one that Lincoln was a homosexual. There are some academics who accept the allegation, but they do so by reading 21st century sensibilities into 19th century habits – which in the end discredits the 21st century “scholars.”

Until more substantive evidence emerges, we can safely dismiss, and with derision, the claim that Abraham Lincoln was a homosexual.


MARTIN P. JOHNSON, Did Abraham Lincoln Sleep with His Bodyguard? Another Look at the Evidence, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, Volume 27, Issue 2, Summer  2006, pp. 42-55

Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.2629860.0027.205

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