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Meet the president who never married; his niece acted as first lady

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Christopher Sam
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To imagine a country without a first lady these days is quite difficult. In order to win the hearts of the people, it is expected that candidates should present themselves as a responsible family man or woman.

But one man defied all the odds to become the first president in the history of America to rule without a wife. Meet James Buchanan, he was the 15th President of the united states.

Portrait

An established diplomat, James Buchanan prior to his presidency, served as ambassador of the United States to Russia.This position helped to establish his reputation at home and abroad, making him a perfect candidate for the presidency.

Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; transfer from the National Gallery of Art; gift of the A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, 1942
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One unique aspect of his presidency was the fact that he was not married. Infact he was a life long bachelor. His handsome features earned him the unofficial title of the most handsome president to ever rule the united states.

Harriet Rebecca [Buchanan] Lane Johnston. (Library of Congress)

He was a charismatic leader who piloted the affairs of his country, in a time when America was heavily divided on the issue of slavery and the abolitionist movements.

James Buchanan never had any children. He adopted his niece, Harriet Lane whom he treated as his daughter.

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Even though she was the niece to the president, she was the acting first lady. She carried out all the functions expected of the spouse of the president, even though they were not married.

Waidner-Spahr Library

The bachelorhood of James Buchanan, has been a subject of debate among most historians. While most historians asserted that the former president was not attracted to women, because of his homosexuality, which he did not declare publicly, others maintained that he was just a strict politician and lawyer, who was so engrossed in his own work, and he simply did not have time for women.

photo posted on post-gazette.com

Other historians argued that the former president was simply celibate. His legacies amongst many, includes holding the country together in the face of clear divisions, arising from those who wanted slavery to continue in the United states, and the Abolitionists who wanted it to end.

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But one lasting legacy of his tenure, that perhaps made him famous, was that he was the only President in American history who never married.

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