In The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln, C.A. Tripp offers a full examination of Lincoln's inner life and relationships that, as Dr. Jean Baker argues in the Introduction, "will define the issue for years to come."
The late C. A. Tripp, a highly regarded sex researcher and colleague of Alfred Kinsey, and author of the runaway bestseller The Homosexual Matrix, devoted the last ten years of his life to an exhaustive study of Abraham Lincoln's writings and of scholarship about Lincoln, in search of hidden keys to his character. Throughout this riveting work, new details are revealed about Lincoln's relations with a number of men. Long-standing myths are debunked convincingly—in particular, the myth that Lincoln's one true love was Ann Rutledge, who died tragically young. Ultimately, Tripp argues that Lincoln's unorthodox loves and friendships were tied to his maverick beliefs about religion, slavery, and even ethics and morals. As Tripp argues, Lincoln was an "invert"—a man who consistently turned convention on its head, who drew his values not from the dominant conventions of society, but from within.
For years, a whisper campaign has mounted about Abraham Lincoln, focusing on his intimate relationships. He was famously awkward around single women. He was engaged once before Mary Todd, but his fiancée called off the marriage on the grounds that he was "lacking in smaller attentions." His marriage to Mary was troubled. Meanwhile, throughout his adult life, he enjoyed close relationships with a number of men. He shared a bed with Joshua Speed for four years as a young man, and—as Tripp details here—he shared a bed with an army captain while serving in the White House, when Mrs. Lincoln was away. As one Washington socialite commented in her diary, "What stuff!"
This study reaches far beyond a brief about Lincoln's sexuality—it is an attempt to make sense of the whole man, as never before. It includes an Introduction by Jean Baker, biographer of Mary Todd Lincoln, and an Afterword containing reactions by two Lincoln scholars and one clinical psychologist and longtime acquaintance of C.A. Tripp. As Michael Chesson explains in one of the Afterword essays, "Lincoln was different from other men, and he knew it. More telling, virtually every man who knew him at all well, long before he rose to prominence, recognized it. In fact, the men who claimed to know him best, if honest, usually admitted that they did not understand him." Perhaps only now, when conventions of intimacy are so different, so open, and so much less rigid than in Lincoln's day, can Lincoln be fully understood.
Psychologist, therapist and former Kinsey sex researcher Tripp author of the 1975 classic The Homosexual Matrix died in May 2003 at the age of 83, just after completing this riveting new study that makes a surprisingly compelling case for Lincoln's bisexuality. Tripp merges a sexual psychologist's knowledge with a prosecutor's eye for evidence as he scrutinizes letters, diaries and oral histories gathered by early Lincoln researchers. Seeing what others either could not or would not, Tripp itemizes in telling detail three homosexual liaisons from different stages of Lincoln's life. The first involved young Billy Green, a frequent bunk mate in New Salem during the 1830s. The second was a passionate union with the aristocratic Kentuckian, and Lincoln's lifelong friend, Joshua Speed in Springfield, Ill., during the 1840s (Tripp notes, refuting others' arguments, that poverty did not necessitate their long-term sharing of a bed). The last involved Capt. David V. Derickson, President Lincoln's bodyguard and intimate companion between September 1862 and April 1863; it is documented that the president shared his bed with him on numerous occasions during Mary Lincoln's frequent absences. Throughout the book, the most important factor is Tripp's knowledgeable sex therapist's eye running over key sources to detect telltale markers missed by previous writers who lacked Tripp's training. An Introduction by Jean Baker (biographer of Mary Todd Lincoln) and concluding comments from Lincoln scholar Michael Chesson help put Tripp's groundbreaking and sure to be controversial study into historical context. BOMC, InsightOut Book Club alternates.