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Bosom FriendsThe Intimate World of James Buchanan and William Rufus King$
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Thomas J. Balcerski

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190914592

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190914592.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Bosom Friends

Thomas J. Balcerski

Oxford University Press

The introduction begins with the retrospective observation of the writer Elizabeth Ellet that Washington society once referred to James Buchanan and William Rufus King as the “Siamese twins.” From there, the book presents the modern, often sexualized understandings of their relationship and briefly surveys what the existing literature on politics, sexuality, and friendship offers this book, including the arguments of Buchanan biographer Philip Klein and novelist John Updike. The book argues that their personal and political relationship conformed to a model of intimate male friendship, or “bosom friendship,” prevalent in nineteenth-century America. It then outlines the chapters that compose the book and concludes by calling for greater attention to the part played by historical memory in the study of these two much misinterpreted figures.

Keywords:   James Buchanan, William Rufus King, Siamese twins, boardinghouses, mess, bosom friendship, bachelors, intimacy, Elizabeth Ellet, John Updike

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