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WARD H. LAMONANDTHE DEDICATION OFTHE SOLDIERS' CEMETERY ATGETTYSBURG Frank L. Klement WARD H. Lamon'S RELATIONSHIP with President Abraham Lincoln gave him the opportunity to play an important role in the dedication of the soldiers' cemetery at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863. Serving as marshal-in-chief for the days events, Lamon supervised the procession which preceded the program and then served as master of ceremonies aboard the twenty-by-twelve-foot platform during the dedication exercises . Lamons acquaintanceship with Lincoln dated back to the autumn of 1847. Earlier that year, the twenty-one-year-old Lamon had left his home in Berkeley County, Virginia, and emigrated to Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois. One day at the county courthouse, John T. Stuart introduced Lamon to Lincoln. The two promptly exchanged quips and banter in a friendly fashion. After Lincoln learned that the former Virginian also possessed antislavery views, the acquaintanceship blossomed into a friendship . "Until the day ofhis death," Lamon later wrote, "it was my pleasure and good fortune to retain his confidence unshaken, as he retained my affection unbroken."' Recognizing Lincoln's courtroom capabilities, Lamon promptly developed a working relationship with him, even though Lincoln was eighteen years his senior. Later Lamon stated, "I was his local partner, first in Danville, and afterward in Bloomington. We rode the circuit together, traveling by buggy in the dry seasons and on horse-back in bad weather, there being no railroads then in that part of the State."2 Lamons marriage to the daughter of Stephen T. Logan, Lincoln's law partner at that time, cemented their friendship. Both Lincoln and Lamon were good story1 Ward H. Lamon, Recollections ofAbraham Lincoln, 1847-1865 (Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co., 1895), 14-15 (hereafter cited as HAL). 2 Lamon, HAL, 14-15. Civil War History, Vol. XXXI, No. 4, ©1985 by The Kent State University Press 294CIVIL WAR HISTORY tellers, the former appreciating the latter's quaint accent. Both excelled in the art ofapplying old anecdotes to new situations. In addition, Lamon had a good voice, especially suited to singing sad ballads. Lamon often sang at Lincoln's prodding, a favorite being a ballad entitled "Twenty Years Ago." Yet, in a way, the two gave substance to the old saying that opposites attract. Lamon was stout, most handsome, and possessed of a swashbuckling air; Lincoln was tall, lean, nearly ugly, and modest in a strange way. Lamon was an extrovert, Lincoln an introvert. Lamon was both a boozer and brawler; Lincoln preached temperance and was gentle and soft-hearted. It was said that Lamon spent more time in a downstairs barroom than in his upstairs law office. Anyway, both enjoyed life on the circuit and the repartee and storytelling which took place around the wood stoves in the boardinghouses and inns. Later, Lamon worked for Lincoln's nomination at the Chicago-based Republican national convention of 1860. In fact, Lamon is sometimes credited with printing an extra set oftickets for some ofthe seats inside the Wigwam and filling them with Lincoln supporters while William H. Seward's supporters paraded outdoors. After the election, Lamon became president-elect Lincoln's unofficial bodyguard. He accompanied Lincoln on the long train trip from Springfield to Washington. On that strange midnight ride from Baltimore to Washington, amidst rumors ofan assassination plot, Lamon was constantly at Lincoln's side, armed with two revolvers, two pistols, and two big knives. Soon after the inauguration, the new president gave Lamon a fancy title, "United States Marshall for the District of Columbia."3 Although Lincoln occasionally sent Lamon on special missions, the impressive-looking marshal was usually handy and constantly concerned with the presidents safety. At White House receptions, Marshal Lamon always stood at Lincoln's left, closer to the entrance door, keeping a watchful eye upon all visitors as they stood in the reception line. Lamon developed an interesting circle offriends—most ofwhom would be involved in the dedication ofthe soldiers' cemetery at Gettysburg. One was Benjamin B. French, whom the president appointed commissioner of public buildings. French's and Lamons paths crossed often, especially when French acquired books for the library in the executive mansion or when he had unpleasant encounters with...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 293-308
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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