Eastern’s Balcerski Book Explores Male Friendships Among Politicians

Tom Balcerski, assistant professor of history at Eastern Connecticut State University, has published a book titled “Bosom Friends: The Intimate World of James Buchanan and William Rufus King.” The book published by Oxford University Press, examines the friendship of the bachelor politicians James Buchanan (1791-1868) of Pennsylvania and William Rufus King (1786-1853) of Alabama.

Balcerski will present his findings in a talk entitled “James Buchanan: The First Gay President?” on Sept. 19 at 3:30 p.m. in Room 301 of the Science Building. He will also autograph copies of his book. The public is invited. Admission is free.

Buchanan and King’s intimate friendship has elicited much speculation through the years. In his book, Balcerski narrates Buchanan and King’s relationship and each man’s rise to national prominence. King was elected vice president in 1852 and Buchanan became the nation’s 15th president in 1856.

Balcerski’s highly acclaimed book has received coverage in the national news media, including CNN, NBC News and Time and Smithsonian magazines. “‘Bosom Friends’ is a revelation,” said Douglas Egerton, author of “Year of Meteors: Douglas, Lincoln and the Election That Brought on the Civil War.”

“Exhaustively researched, (Balcerski’s book) sheds fresh light on antebellum politics through its discerning analysis of a distinctive, intimate friendship that crossed sectional, if not sexual, boundaries. Prepare to be surprised and enlightened by Balcerski’s findings.”

Written by Dwight Bachman