Lincoln's private life is back in the news

Believers in Lincoln-as-gay-man were heartened by the release of this new study.

Opponents of the view may appreciate this commentary.

Chris Cross was wondering what I would make of this new book. I was thinking about the matter pretty much at the time he was. I let it slide until now. Lincoln-the-gay-man is like Lincoln-the-conspiracy-victim, a deep topic filled with a rich mix of real and bogus information such that great numbers of books need to be studied in in order to make an informed comment. I don't have my heart in such an investigation.

I do know more than a little about that model of Victorian propriety, George B. McClellan. Late in his life, this receiver of all kinds of anti-Lincoln gossip felt free enough to write that he and Lincoln shared a bed on many occasions when they travelled to remote Illinois courts on railroad business (Lincoln was McClellan's lawyer, as your history books should have told you). This image conveys personal intimacy while at the same time indicating that their time in bed was spent sleeping. I draw an additional inference: that this is not something George B. McClellan would have dared written if there had been whispers of Lincoln misbehaving in bed with men. And as Lincoln's political nemesis in '64, he would have heard it all.

Lincoln was a strange man. The typical Lincoln bio glosses over the strangeness, leaving an open door for unbalanced studies of Lincoln-as-crazy and Lincoln-as-gay. One thing I can do in this case is to look at this author's evidence handling. If a writer is pushing a line, that should be fairly obvious.

Will write up my impressions soon.