The American West of the nineteenth century was a world of freedom and adventure for men of every stripe—not least also those who admired and desired other men. Among these sojourners was William Drummond Stewart, a flamboyant Scottish nobleman who found in American culture of the 1830s and 1840s a cultural milieu of openness in which men could pursue same-sex relationships.
This book traces Stewart’s travels from his arrival in America in 1832 to his return to Murthly Castle in Perthshire, Scotland, with his French Canadian–Cree Indian companion, Antoine Clement, one of the most skilled hunters in the Rockies. Benemann chronicles Stewart’s friendships with such notables as Kit Carson, William Sublette, Marcus Whitman, and Jim Bridger. He describes the wild Renaissance-costume party held by Stewart and Clement upon their return to America—a journey that ended in scandal. Through Stewart’s letters and novels, Benemann shows that Stewart was one of many men drawn to the sexual freedom offered by the West. His book provides a tantalizing new perspective on the Rocky Mountain fur trade and the role of homosexuality in shaping the American West.
William Benemann is the author of A Year of Mud and Gold: San Francisco in Letters and Diaries, 1849–1850, available in a Bison Books edition, and Male-Male Intimacy in Early America: Beyond Romantic Friendships.
"[An] engrossing, eminently readable study of one of the most intriguing figures in the history of the Old West."—Ray Olson, Booklist starred review
"Utterly convincing. An engaging contribution to LGBT history; highly recommended."—Richard J. Violette, Library Journal
"Benemann's storytelling abilities are on display in this engaging and highly readable biography, which is also a worthy contribution to queer-focused early American history."—Christopher Lee Cochran, Gay & Lesbian Review/Worldwide
"This is an informative biography and an entertaining story that provides a rather novel view of gender and sexuality in the early West."—Peter Boag, Journal of American History
"Wonderfully written and extensively researched."—Justin M. Carroll, Great Plains Quarterly
"[A] fascinating biography."—Brian Dempsey, History Scotland