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Ward Hill Lamon Papers: Finding Aid
mssLN 1-2470  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Ward Hill Lamon Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1848-1894
    Bulk dates: 1861-1879
    Collection Number: mssLN 1-2470
    Creator: Lamon, Ward Hill, 1828-1893.
    Extent: 2490 pieces in 32 boxes, 1 oversize box, 4 bound volumes.
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    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: English.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    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.

    Custodial History

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


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

    Biographical Note

    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).

    Removed or Separated Material

    Items in this collection written by Abraham Lincoln are housed in the Abraham Lincoln Collection.   Access is restricted and available for research use only with permission of curator. Requires extended retrieval and delivery time.

    Scope and Content

    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:
    • Amos Beckwith (12 pieces)
    • Corrydon Beckwith (11 pieces)
    • Mary A. Brown (12 pieces)
    • David Davis (25 pieces)
    • Hamilton G. Fant (12 pieces)
    • John S. Gallaher (13 pieces)
    • William H. Hanna (13 pieces)
    • William Henry Herndon (38 pieces)
    • Robert B. Holliday (12 pieces)
    • Charles Edward Hovey (12 pieces)
    • David O. Laws (12 pieces)
    • Abraham Lincoln (13 pieces)
    • William Ward Orme (21 pieces)
    • Philip Pendelton (11 pieces)
    • Charles H. Russell (10 pieces)
    • John Wilson Shaffer (18 pieces)
    • Leonard Swett (40 pieces)
    • John Palmer Usher (11 pieces)
    • Lawrence Weldon (10 pieces)
    • John H Wickizer (13 pieces)
    Some notable items include:
    • 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
    • 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]
    • 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)
    • 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]
    • __________. Speech in support of Andrew Johnson. 1866
    • Lincoln, Abraham. Seven legal documents, including a brief of the suit: Illinois Central R. R. vs. the County of McLean. 1854-1858
    • __________. Autograph draft of the text of the statement, which was signed by Lamon, regarding the so-called Antietam Episode. September 12, 1864
    • Logan, Stephen Trigg. Six letters from Judge Logan to Lamon, his son-in-law. Springfield, 1861-1865
    • Maguire, John. Letter to Lamon giving recollections of Lincoln's attitude on the cotton traffic in 1864-1865. [Approximately 1870]


    The collection is arranged chronologically.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    Herndon, William Henry, 1818-1891 -- Archives.
    Lamon, Ward Hill, 1828-1893 -- Archives.
    Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
    Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 -- Friends and associates -- Archives.
    Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 -- Correspondence.
    United States. Marshal (District of Columbia) -- History -- Sources.
    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.

    Additional Authors

    Herndon, William Henry, 1818-1891, collector.
    Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.