(yes. for humor’s sake, I’ve got Buchanan on top)

Vicepresidents.com: With Dick Cheney’s daughter, Mary, openly gay, can America’s first openly gay VEEP be far behind? Last year a Gallup poll found that 55% of Americans would vote for a gay person running for President. We’ll assume those numbers would hold for the office of VEEP…

…Though don’t bet the farm just yet that Hillary, Barack, John or Mitt are gonna hook up with an openly gay running mate later this year — especially Republicans McCain and Romney.

What most Americans probably don’t know is that the country may have had at least one gay VEEP already,William Rufus deVane King.

King, the nation’s 13th VEEP, served a brief 45 days in office during the spring of 1853 (under the administration of Franklin Pierce) before dying of tuberculosis.

But it was King’s relationship with Pierce’s White House successor, James Buchanan, which provided grist for the gay gossip mill. King and Buchanan shacked up together for fifteen years prior to Buchanan’s presidency, prompting speculation in the press as to the nature of their relationship. Andrew Jackson referred to King as “Miss Nancy” and “Aunt Fancy,” while Buchanan’s equally snide Postmaster General, Aaron V. Brown, alluded to the two as “Buchanan and his wife.” Buchanan is the only American president never to marry.

Fueling further gay speculation was the fact that Buchanan’s and King’s nieces curiously destroyed their uncles’ correspondence, though at least one surviving letter has Buchanan writing of his “communion” with King. In 1844, after King left for France, Buchanan wrote, “I am now ‘solitary and alone,’ having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any of them.”

Buchanan’s relationship with King has led some authors and historians, including Texas Christian University’s Paul F. Boller, to speculate that Buchanan was “America’s first homosexual president.” It follows, therefore, that King was quite possibly America’s first gay VEEP.

Weekend America: William Rufus DeVane King was a man born to be vice president. And he was born at a time when that wasn’t necessarily an insult.

In the middle of the 19th century, the vice president was expected to run the Senate, providing a steady hand, maintaining civility and keeping the legislative process flowing. In years of service as a lawmaker and a diplomat, King had earned a reputation as a modest and reasonable guy. He was well-liked, accommodating, not interested in glory or fame. In essence, he was a perfect vice president.

And King really wanted the job.

So, in 1852 he gets on the ticket with Franklin Pierce. They’re marching toward an easy victory, but meanwhile, King starts coughing. A lot. By the time they win, King is coughing all the time.

Anyone who’s ever watched a film adaptation of a Jane Austen novel can guess what comes next. King heads down to Cuba, hoping a little tropical air will help out his consumption. It doesn’t.

Out of respect for King — knowing full well where this whole thing is going — Congress passes a one-time-only law that allows the vice president to be sworn in on foreign soil. In a somber ceremony, William Rufus DeVane King becomes the 13th vice president of the United States.

A month later he’s dead, and John Breckenridge becomes the 14th.

Now there’s another interesting historical footnote on King. He and future president James Buchanan were roommates for 15 years. One of several facts that have prompted some historians to propose that the two men were America’s first gay vice president and president, respectively. The press at the time wrote articles speculating about it. Both men’s relatives suspiciously burned all correspondence between the two. The post master general used to call the pair “Buchanan and his wife.” And Andrew Jackson called King “Miss Nancy.” Really.

But we will never know for sure.

And at least one historian says that Andrew Jackson called a lot of people Miss Nancy.

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