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Lamon (Ward Hill) Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Custodial History
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • Processing Information
  • General
  • Separated Materials
  • Arrangement

  • Contributing Institution: The Huntington Library
    Title: Ward Hill Lamon papers
    Creator: Lamon, Ward Hill, 1828-1893
    Identifier/Call Number: mssLN
    Physical Description: 38.6 Linear Feet (33 boxes, 4 volumes)
    Date (inclusive): 1848-1894
    Date (bulk): 1861-1879
    Abstract: This collection contains the personal and professional papers of attorney and United States Marshal of the District of Columbia Ward Hill Lamon (1818-1891), a close friend and a biographer of Abraham Lincoln. The collection includes source materials for Lamon's biography of Lincoln and papers covering Lamon's own life and career, including numerous letters addressed to Lamon seeking Lincoln's patronage and papers related to Lamon's activities during the Civil War.
    Language of Material: English.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for use by qualified researchers and by appointment. Please contact Reader Services at the Huntington Library for more information.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Ward Hill Lamon papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Purchased by Henry Huntington from George D. Smith, January, 1914.

    Custodial History

    The papers were purchased in 1912 by George D. Smith from Ward H. Lamon's daughter Dorothy (Lamon) Teillard.

    Biographical / Historical

    Ward Hill Lamon (1827-1893), law partner and friend of Abraham Lincoln, was born near Winchester, Virginia, and brought up on a farm in Berkeley County, now West Virginia.
    Lamon's association with Lincoln began in 1852, in Danville, Illinois, and continued there for five years. Then he moved to Bloomington where he became very active in the newly formed Republican Party, and in furthering the cause of his friend; the middle of February, 1861 found him en route to Washington, D. C., as companion and virtual body guard of the President elect, and a few months later, upon the outbreak of war, he was appointed Marshal of the District of Columbia.
    After Lincoln's death, Lamon resigned (June 1865) to become a law partner of Judge Jeremiah S. Black practicing as a claims attorney in Washington, afterwards he also opened a law office in Martinsburg, West Virginia, which, during the 1780s, became his headquarters. Throughout this period he made repeated efforts to secure some kind of official appointment, but always without success, until finally, discouraged and in poor health, he moved to Denver, Colorado, where he remained for nearly ten years practicing law, speculating in mining properties, and writing for the press.
    In 1886 he returned to Washington and spent the rest of his life in writing and travel. In 1895, two years after Lamon's death, his daughter, Dorothy Lamon Teillard, published an extended version of her father's work under the title Recollections of Abraham Lincoln (1895).

    Scope and Contents

    This collection contains the personal and professional papers of Ward Hill Lamon, chiefly dating from 1861 to 1879. The collection contains source materials for a biography of Abraham Lincoln, including three volumes of materials purchased from William Henry Hendon in 1869 and the correspondence related to the purchase; an unpublished typescript of Lamon's history of the Lincoln administration, and other papers relating to his historical work, including items concerning the controversy over his Life of Abraham Lincoln (published in 1872) and preparation of the second volume, never published.
    Also included are papers that cover Lamon's own life and career. There are numerous letters with recommendations and applications for office appointments under Lincoln, addressed to Lamon as intermediary; papers relating to Lamon's attempt to organize a brigade of Unionist Virginians in 1861, with Lamon equipped as Colonel; office correspondence related to Lamon's role as United States Marshal of the District of Columbia (1861-1865) and his claims practice after the war; and papers related to a political attack on Lamon in 1862 by abolitionist senators over the continued enforcement of the fugitive slave law. There are some papers related to cotton traffic and blockade running, 1864-1865.
    Personal correspondence and documents include letters related to the hardships of relatives and friends living in the loyal border counties of Virginia (1861-1865); political news and gossip from Illinois; and documents about Lamon's financial transactions including wartime speculation and dealings in Colorado mining properties. There are also materials related to Lamon's efforts to secure a government appointment including his run as a Republican candidate for West Virginia in the 45th Congress; and applications for the office of Governor or Judge in the West, or a consular appointment abroad. There are also syndicated newspaper articles.
    Persons represented by ten or more pieces consist of:
    1. Amos Beckwith (12 pieces)
    2. Corrydon Beckwith (11 pieces)
    3. Mary A. Brown (12 pieces)
    4. David Davis (25 pieces)
    5. Hamilton G. Fant (12 pieces)
    6. John S. Gallaher (13 pieces)
    7. William H. Hanna (13 pieces)
    8. William Henry Herndon (38 pieces)
    9. Robert B. Holliday (12 pieces)
    10. Charles Edward Hovey (12 pieces)
    11. David O. Laws (12 pieces)
    12. William Ward Orme (21 pieces)
    13. Philip Pendelton (11 pieces)
    14. Charles H. Russell (10 pieces)
    15. John Wilson Shaffer (18 pieces)
    16. Leonard Swett (40 pieces)
    17. John Palmer Usher (11 pieces)
    18. Lawrence Weldon (10 pieces)
    19. John H Wickizer (13 pieces)
    Some notable items include:
    1. Black, Jeremiah Sullivan. Letter to Ward H. Lamon, ... the millions of white men through all the country with wealth and intelligence have far less power in regard to their own affairs than the same number of persons in Russia and Turkey... York, March 7, 1869
    2. Frémont, Jessie (Benton). Letter to Lamon, ...I had written and copied a great deal to you. But the usual leakage at Washington makes public Gen. Thomas' & Gen. Hunter's plans. This explains to all why Hunter does not advance & why orders from Gen. Frémont are left unattended to... [St. Louis, October 31, 1861]
    3. Garfield, James A. letter to Ward H. Lamon, 1880 September 13 (LN 232)
    4. Grant, Ulysses S. letter to Edwin M. Stanton (contemporary copy), 1865 March 4 (LN 2348)
    5. Grant, Ulysses S. letter to Sidney S. Jerman (contemporary copy), 1865 March 27 (LN 1114)
    6. Herndon, William Henry. Analyses of the character and mind of Abraham Lincoln. 1865, December 12 and 26; 1866, January 23; 1870, March 3 (4 pieces)
    7. Johnson, Andrew letter to Ward H. Lamon, 1861 April 16 (LN 378)
    8. Lamon, Ward Hill. Unpublished typescript of the history of Abraham Lincoln's public and private life from his inauguration until his assassination, intended to be volume II, of Lamon's Life of Lincoln. [Denver, 1886]
    9. __________. Speech in support of Andrew Johnson. 1866
    10. __________. Autograph draft of the text of the statement, which was signed by Lamon, regarding the so-called Antietam Episode. September 12, 1864
    11. Logan, Stephen Trigg. Six letters from Judge Logan to Lamon, his son-in-law. Springfield, 1861-1865
    12. Maguire, John. Letter to Lamon giving recollections of Lincoln's attitude on the cotton traffic in 1864-1865. [Approximately 1870]

    Processing Information

    This finding aid was updated in 2022 by Melissa Haley as part of the American Presidential Papers Project with enhanced description of the presidential material present.


    Individual call numbers in the collection: mssLN 1-2470.

    Separated Materials

    Items written by Abraham Lincoln that were originally part of this collection were transferred to the Abraham Lincoln collection, mssLincoln, by Huntington Library staff in the mid-20th century.


    The collection is arranged chronologically.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Abolitionists -- United States -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
    Biographers -- United States -- Archives
    Fugitive slaves -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- United States -- History -- Sources
    Lawyers -- United States -- Archives
    Politicians -- United States -- Archives
    Unionists (United States Civil War) -- Virginia.
    Colorado -- History -- 1876-1950 -- Sources
    Illinois -- Politics and government -- 19th century -- Sources
    United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Sources
    Biographies -- United States -- 19th century
    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 19th century
    Manuscripts -- United States -- 19th century
    Personal Papers -- United States
    Professional papers -- United States
    Garfield, James A. (James Abram), 1831-1881
    Grant, Ulysses S. (Ulysses Simpson), 1822-1885
    Herndon, William Henry, 1818-1891 -- Archives
    Johnson, Andrew, 1808-1875
    Lamon, Ward Hill, 1828-1893 -- Archives
    Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865
    Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 -- Friends and associates -- Archives
    United States. Marshal (District of Columbia) -- History -- Sources.