Ward Hill Lamon

Ward Hill Lamon

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Ward Hill Lamon'
Start a new discussion about 'Ward Hill Lamon'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia

Ward Hill Lamon was a personal friend and self-appointed bodyguard
Bodyguard
A bodyguard is a type of security operative or government agent who protects a person—usually a famous, wealthy, or politically important figure—from assault, kidnapping, assassination, stalking, loss of confidential information, terrorist attack or other threats.Most important public figures such...

 of the American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

. Lamon was famously absent the night Lincoln was assassinated
Abraham Lincoln assassination
The assassination of United States President Abraham Lincoln took place on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, as the American Civil War was drawing to a close. The assassination occurred five days after the commanding General of the Army of Northern Virginia, Robert E. Lee, and his battered Army of...

, having been sent by Lincoln to Richmond, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

.

Background


Lamon's relation with Lincoln has been traced by Clint Clay Tilton in Lincoln and Lamon. Lamon was born near Winchester, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, studied medicine for two years, and moved to Danville, Illinois
Danville, Illinois
Danville is a city in Vermilion County, Illinois, United States. It is the principal city of the'Danville, Illinois Metropolitan Statistical Area' which encompasses all of Danville and Vermilion County. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 32,467. It is the county seat of...

 when he was 19 to live with relatives. He attended the University of Louisville
University of Louisville
The University of Louisville is a public university in Louisville, Kentucky. When founded in 1798, it was the first city-owned public university in the United States and one of the first universities chartered west of the Allegheny Mountains. The university is mandated by the Kentucky General...

 to receive his law degree and was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1851. In 1850, he moved back to Virginia, married Angelina Turner, and then returned to Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

 to practice law. Angelina was a daughter of Ehud and Priscilla Strode Turner, whose house at Beddington, West Virginia was listed on the National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...

 in 2002 as the Priscilla Strode Turner House
Priscilla Strode Turner House
Priscilla Strode Turner House is a historic home located at Beddington, Berkeley County, West Virginia. It was built about 1850 and is a two story, five bay, brick dwelling in the Greek Revival style. It has an "L"-shaped plan and is topped by a gable roof. Also on the property is a stone spring...

. Angelina died in April, 1859, leaving a daughter, Dorothy, who was raised in Danville by Lamon's sister, Mrs. William Morgan. In November, 1860, Lamon married Sally Logan, daughter of Judge Stephen T. Logan. Logan had been Lincoln's law partner from 1841 to 1844.

Early years with Lincoln


Lamon's professional association with Lincoln started in 1852, when he became Lincoln's law partner in Danville, Illinois
Danville, Illinois
Danville is a city in Vermilion County, Illinois, United States. It is the principal city of the'Danville, Illinois Metropolitan Statistical Area' which encompasses all of Danville and Vermilion County. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 32,467. It is the county seat of...

 Their partnership lasted up until 1857 when Lamon became the prosecuting attorney for the Old Eighth Judicial district and subsequently moved to Bloomington, Illinois
Bloomington, Illinois
Bloomington is a city in McLean County, Illinois, United States and the county seat. It is adjacent to Normal, Illinois, and is the more populous of the two principal municipalities of the Bloomington-Normal metropolitan area...

 in 1858. While Lamon had Southern sympathies and his hatred of abolitionism
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

 set him apart from Lincoln, they remained friends, despite their very different characters. Lamon joined the then-young Republican Party and campaigned for Lincoln in 1860. Lincoln was up against New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 William Seward
William H. Seward
William Henry Seward, Sr. was the 12th Governor of New York, United States Senator and the United States Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson...

 for the Republican nomination, and Lamon proved his friendship by printing up extra tickets for the convention to fill the hall with Lincoln supporters. When Lincoln was elected President, Lamon hoped for a foreign diplomatic post, but received a letter from his friend that said, "Dear Hill, I need you. I want you to go to Washington with me and be prepared for a long stay." Lamon then accompanied him as he traveled from Springfield, Illinois
Springfield, Illinois
Springfield is the third and current capital of the US state of Illinois and the county seat of Sangamon County with a population of 117,400 , making it the sixth most populated city in the state and the second most populated Illinois city outside of the Chicago Metropolitan Area...

 to Washington D.C. in February 1861. This trip would prove to be eventful.

Lamon and the Baltimore Plot, 1861



Lamon was a physically imposing man, and during the presidency, often took it upon himself to guard Lincoln. In February 1861, detective Allan Pinkerton
Allan Pinkerton
Allan Pinkerton was a Scottish American detective and spy, best known for creating the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.-Early life, career and immigration:...

 uncovered a plot to assassinate Lincoln when he arrived in Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

 on his way to his inauguration in Washington
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

. Pinkerton advised Lincoln that rather than ride publicly through the city between train stations as planned, he take a midnight train straight through to the capitol
United States Capitol
The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall...

. Lamon was the sole friend chosen to accompany him. Lamon and Pinkerton famously clashed over the President-elect's protection. Lamon offered Lincoln "a Revolver and a Bowie Knife" but Pinkerton protested that he "would not for the world have it said that Mr. Lincoln had to enter the national Capitol armed". The two men further disagreed over Lamon's desire to alert the Chicago Journal to their early arrival in Washington because Pinkerton, more prudently, wished not to publicize their change of plans. In Pinkerton's account of the plot, he wrote disparagingly of Lamon, referring to him as a "brainless, egotistical fool". Pinkerton allowed William Herndon
William Herndon (lawyer)
William Henry Herndon was the law partner and biographer of Abraham Lincoln.-Biography:Born in Greensburg, Kentucky, Herndon and his family moved to Illinois in 1820, and they settled in Springfield when he was five. Herndon attended Illinois College from 1836-1837. In 1840 he married Mary J....

 to copy his report, which later fell into Lamon's hands when he purchased Herndon's papers to write his Life of Abraham Lincoln. However, when Herndon first requested copies of Pinkerton's report, Pinkerton agreed only on the condition that certain material be kept as confidential, specifically naming his remarks about Lamon. Lamon retaliated by avowing his disbelief in the plot in the biography: "It is perfectly manifest that there was no conspiracy, -- no conspiracy of a hundred, of fifty, of twenty, of three; no definite purpose in the heart of even one man to murder Mr. Lincoln in Baltimore."

Lamon as U.S. Marshal and his relationship with Lincoln 1861-1865


Shortly after his inauguration in 1861, Lincoln appointed Lamon United States Marshal of the District of Columbia; he resigned his commission in June 1865. One of Lamon's first acts as Marshal was to visit Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter is a Third System masonry coastal fortification located in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. The fort is best known as the site upon which the shots initiating the American Civil War were fired, at the Battle of Fort Sumter.- Construction :...

, South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

 in March, 1861 to meet with Major Robert Anderson
Major Robert Anderson
Robert Anderson was an American military leader. He served as a Union Army officer in the American Civil War, known for his command of Fort Sumter at the start of the war. He is often referred to as Major Robert Anderson, referring to his rank at Fort Sumter...

, commander of the fort, and Governor Francis Pickens. Reports vary on Lamon's responsibilities with regard to that visit. One account chronicles that Lamon was just one of a few emissaries sent by Lincoln, the first being Captain Gustavus Fox
Gustavus Fox
Gustavus Vasa Fox was an officer of the United States Navy, who served during the Mexican-American War, and as Assistant Secretary of the Navy during the Civil War.-Biography:...

, who went to determine if Fort Sumter could be relieved by sea. Lamon was sent concurrently with another Illinois friend of Lincoln's, Stephen Hurlbut, with the implication that Lamon was sent to take the focus off of Hurlbut's visit as Hurlbut was there to measure anti-Union sentiment in Charleston (he discovered it was high). Lamon incurred Lincoln's displeasure by meeting with Governor Pickens and informing him of the government's interest in withdrawing from Fort Sumter. Another account represents Lamon as traveling with the full confidence of Lincoln: "It called for courage and the trip was made over the objection of Secretary Seward. 'Mr. Secretary,' said Lincoln, 'I have known to be in many a close place and he's never been in one he didn't get out of. By Jing. I'll risk it. Go, Lamon, and God bless you.'" Yet another account characterizes Lamon as being under Seward's influence and angering Lincoln: "It was under Seward's influence that he actually told Governor Pickens that he had come to arrange for the withdrawal of the garrison, and that after his return he wrote the governor that he would be back in a few days to assist with the evacuation! He also gave Major Anderson the impression that no relief would be attempted. All this was outrageous, and when Lincoln heard of Lamon's letter to Pickens, he indignantly denied that the man possessed any authority to make such a statement." Missions to Fort Sumter aside, the marshal's position was not an onerous one and afforded Lamon legitimate access to the President. What Lamon took upon himself, however, was to represent himself as Lincoln's bodyguard, which he did out of friendship rather than the requirements of the position. Lamon took this so seriously that his friend Leonard Swett recounted that in the three months he stayed with Lamon in the Fall of 1864, he saw Lamon leave every night to go to the White House where he patrolled the grounds. On one of these patrols, he dealt a blow between the eyes to a man skulking in the bushes on the White House grounds, killing him. The man was taken to the Secret Services offices, where he was searched and found to be a Southern gentleman in possession of two pistols and 2 knives. Presidential secretary John Hay
John Hay
John Milton Hay was an American statesman, diplomat, author, journalist, and private secretary and assistant to Abraham Lincoln.-Early life:...

 adds to this portrait of devotion by noting in his diary that one night he observed Lamon wrap himself up in his cloak and lie down to sleep in front of Lincoln's bedroom door. Lamon was not in Washington on the night of Lincoln's assassination
Abraham Lincoln assassination
The assassination of United States President Abraham Lincoln took place on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, as the American Civil War was drawing to a close. The assassination occurred five days after the commanding General of the Army of Northern Virginia, Robert E. Lee, and his battered Army of...

, being on assignment in Richmond
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

. In his Recollections of Abraham Lincoln Lamon reveals that before he left for Richmond, he implored the president not to "go out at night after [he] was gone, particularly to the theatre." After the assassination, Lamon accompanied the funeral procession to Springfield, Illinois.

Lamon as Lincoln's biographer



After Lincoln's death, Lamon published two books (one posthumously) about the late President. The more famous of the two is a biography that was largely ghostwritten by Chauncey Black, the son of former Attorney General of the United States Jeremiah Black. The elder Black was Lamon's law partner from 1865 until 1879. The book, published in 1872 by James R. Osgood and Company of Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 under the title The Life of Abraham Lincoln; From his Birth to his Inauguration as President, contained allegations and personal information about Lincoln that were deemed scandalous by nineteenth century society. It was a financial failure. One of the most shocking claims was that Lincoln was not a man of faith: "Mr. Lincoln was never a member of any church, nor did he believe in the divinity of Christ, or the inspiration of the Scriptures in the sense understood by evangelical Christians." The basis of the book was the papers of William Herndon
William Herndon (lawyer)
William Henry Herndon was the law partner and biographer of Abraham Lincoln.-Biography:Born in Greensburg, Kentucky, Herndon and his family moved to Illinois in 1820, and they settled in Springfield when he was five. Herndon attended Illinois College from 1836-1837. In 1840 he married Mary J....

, which Lamon purchased for either $2,000 or $4,000. Shortly after his death, Lamon's daughter collected and edited many of his unpublished writings about Lincoln into a biography of the president, Recollections of Abraham Lincoln (1895). In Recollections, Lamon reversed his earlier denial of the Baltimore plot of 1861, writing, "It is now an acknowledged fact that there was never a moment from the day he crossed the Maryland line, up until the time of his assassination, that he was not in danger of death by violence, and that his life was spared until the night of the 14th of April, 1865, only through the ceaseless and watchful care of the guards thrown around him." The authenticity of this book is generally more highly regarded by the scholarly community than is the earlier volume by Lamon and Black.

Lamon after Lincoln's death


Lamon had tendered his resignation as Marshal of the District of Columbia in June 1865. He was offered the cabinet position of Postmaster General but declined. He formed his law partnership with Jeremiah Black as referenced above, and the law practice dissolved in 1879 due to the poor reception of The Life of Lincoln ghostwritten by Black's son Chauncey. In 1879, Lamon and his wife Sally moved to Boulder, Colorado
Boulder, Colorado
Boulder is the county seat and most populous city of Boulder County and the 11th most populous city in the U.S. state of Colorado. Boulder is located at the base of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of...

 and later to Denver where he formed a friendship with poet Eugene Field
Eugene Field
Eugene Field, Sr. was an American writer, best known for his children's poetry and humorous essays.-Biography:...

. The ill health of both Lamon and Sally caused them to return to Washington in 1886, and in 1889 they traveled to Europe for the spas and subsequently Sally died in Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

 in 1892.


Lamon moved to Martinsburg
Martinsburg, West Virginia
Martinsburg is a city in the Eastern Panhandle region of West Virginia, United States. The city's population was 14,972 at the 2000 census; according to a 2009 Census Bureau estimate, Martinsburg's population was 17,117, making it the largest city in the Eastern Panhandle and the eighth largest...

, West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

 where he was cared for by his daughter Dorothy until his death on May 7, 1893. He was 65. Lamon was buried in Gerrardstown, West Virginia
Gerrardstown, West Virginia
Gerrardstown is an unincorporated village located along West Virginia Route 51 in Berkeley County in the U.S. state of West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle. It was laid out in 1784 by David Gerrard and served as the site of the first Baptist church west of the Blue Ridge Mountains...

 in the Presbyterian Cemetery (Sally had been buried in Springfield, Illinois). The home built by Lamon's cousin Joseph in Danville, Illinois
Danville, Illinois
Danville is a city in Vermilion County, Illinois, United States. It is the principal city of the'Danville, Illinois Metropolitan Statistical Area' which encompasses all of Danville and Vermilion County. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 32,467. It is the county seat of...

 is open as a museum.

Perceptions of Lamon


Some contemporaries and biographers of Lincoln tend to treat Lamon with a certain casual contempt. In 1862, during his tenure as Marshal, a number of senators called for his removal from office. Although Lincoln refused this demand, the Senate was able to decrease some of Lamon's official duties and thus reduce his income. Allan Pinkerton's opinion of him was voiced above, during the Baltimore Plot. Historian Allan Nevins
Allan Nevins
Allan Nevins was an American historian and journalist, renowned for his extensive work on the history of the Civil War and his biographies of such figures as President Grover Cleveland, Hamilton Fish, Henry Ford, and John D. Rockefeller.-Life:Born in Camp Point, Illinois, Nevins was educated at...

 in The War for the Union characterizes Lamon as "a big loquacious bumbler of more self-assurance than discretion". Even one of Nevin's footnotes that discusses the controversial trip to Charleston in 1861 further dismisses Lamon: "Lamon's papers in the Huntington Library throw no light on the subject except to confirm his general ineptness." A few carry the flag for Lamon, however. In 1931, Clint Clay Tilton repeatedly affirms Lamon's generosity and good humor and dubs him "the Cavalier". When Lamon campaigned for Lincoln's re-election in 1864, a song was written with this verse remaining:

A great good man is Ward Hill Lamon;

Abe is Pythias
Damon and Pythias
In Greek mythology, the legend of Damon and Pythias symbolizes trust and loyalty in a true friendship.- Greek legend :As told by Aristoxenus, and after him Cicero , Diodorus Siculus , and others, around the 4th century BC, Pythias and his friend Damon, both followers of the philosopher...

; he is Damon;

He's the President's protector,

He's his political protector,

Who?

Ward Hill Lamon. Ward Hill Lamon.



External links