"Abraham Lincoln: An Illustrated History of His Life and Times"
I hate to approve of Time magazine in any form, but this coffee table-type book, produced in 2009 for the Big Bicentennial (of Abraham's birth) constantly overpowered me. Produced anonymously, but with key essays from pop historians -- the best being "Across the Great Divide: The friendship between Lincoln and Frederick Douglass required from both a change of heart" by John Stauffer -- this book finds obscure archival photos: for example, did you know that throughout Lincoln's presidency the US Capitol building was incomplete? How symbolical! A photo circa 1846 shows the temporary dome, built (I guess) to keep out the rain. Another amazing discovery: Elizabeth Keckly, Mary Todd Lincoln's "modiste" (fashion advisor) and dressmaker. "Keckly was a former slave whose father was her wealthy white owner; she endured years of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of white masters before managing to buy her freedom in 1855, thanks to her expertise as a dressmaker and enterprise as a businesswoman." She was a "daily presence in the White House"! Elizabeth Keckly appears in a long and satiny gown (photographically).
The introductory essay, "The True Lincoln," by Joshua Wolf Shenk, who wrote "the acclaimed 2005 bestseller, Lincoln's Melancholy," goes around in circles, dueling with the many misinterpretations of Lincoln, but becomes fixated on the gay hypothesis put forth by C. A. Tripp in The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln:
Tripp's claim proceeds from what Jonathan Ned Katz calls "epistemological hubris and ontological chutzpah." A scholar of 19th century sexuality, Katz explains that the terms homosexual and heterosexual but not exist in Lincoln's time, and that fact is just one piece of evidence that the concepts of gender, sexuality and same-sex relationships were radically different in Lincoln's world. In those days, men could be openly affectionate with one another, physically and verbally, without having to stake their identity on it.
Yes, but did Joshua Speed and Lincoln have sex, during the five years they slept together?
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