Ward Hill Lamon Papers: Finding Aid mssLN

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Finding aid last updated on July 20, 2022, by Melissa Haley.

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.


Boxes 1-32

Box 1

1850 December 4-1851 January 31

Box 2

1861 February 1-1861 March 2

Box 3

1861 March 3-1861 March 20

Box 4

1861 March 21-1861 April 9

Box 5

1861 April 10-1861 April 24

Box 6

1861 April 25-1861 May 17

Box 7

1861 May 18-1861 June 18

Box 8

1861 June 19-1861 August 31

Box 9

1861 September 1-1861 October 27

Box 10

1861 October 28-1861

Box 11

1862 January 1-1862 March 21

Box 12

1862 March 22-1862 August 13

Box 13

1862 August 15-1862

Box 14

1863 January 1-1863 April 8

Box 15

1863 April 9-1863 July 30

Box 16

1863 August 3-1863 November 14

Box 17

1863 November 15-[before 1864]

Box 18

1864 January 1-1864 March 17

Box 19

1864 March 18-1864 December 14

Box 20

1864 December 19-1865 February 27

Box 21

1865 February 28-1865 November 5

Box 22

1865 November 17-1867 August 16

Box 23

1867 September 18-1868 September 26

Box 24

1868 September 29-1869

Box 25

1870 January 1-1871

Box 26

[before 1872]-1875

Box 27


Box 28


Box 29


Box 30


Box 31


Box 32




Box Oversize

Boxed oversize

Scope and Contents

  1. LN 1947. [Herndon, William Henry]. Analysis of the Character and Mind of Abraham Lincoln. 1865 [December 12]
  2. LN 1948. [Herndon, William Henry]. Imagination, etc. 1865 December 26.
  3. LN 1949. [Herndon, William Henry]. Facts Illustrative of Mr. Lincoln's Patriotism and Statesmanship. [1866 January 23].
  4. LN 2325. Herndon, William Henry. To Ward Hill Lamon. 1870 March 1.
  5. LN 2326. Herndon, William Henry. To [Ward Hill Lamon]: Statement of Jas. T. Stuart and Jas. H. Mathenay. 1870 March 2.
  6. LN 2327. Herndon, William Henry. To Ward Hill Lamon. 1870 March 3.
  7. LN 2328. [Herndon, William Henry]. [Copies of source material for Life of Lincoln, includes Ancestors of Lincoln, statements of John B. Helm, Samuel Haycroft, R. Wintersmith]. [Approximately 1870].
  8. LN 2460. The Great Western Empire [memoir of a scheme for the partition of the Americas, 1848-1864]. [Approximately 1886].
Folder Oversize Folder

[Map - New Salem (Ill.)] Town of New Salem made for William H. Herndon. LN 2386 [Approximately 1832]

Scope and Contents

Manuscript map, 13 7/8 x 17 in.
Envelope Oversize Envelope

Lamon, Ward Hill. Recollections of Abraham Lincoln [handwritten drafts of anecdotes to be used in articles for the press]. LN 2405 (1-16) 1887-1890

Folder Oversize Envelope

Miscellaneous manuscript materials

Scope and Contents

Contains 19 miscellaneous pieces:
  1. Harrow, William. To Brown. 1861 May 1.
  2. [Lamon, Ward Hill]. Address to Capt. Kennedy & officers of the Williamsport Home Guards. [Approximately 1861].
  3. [Lamon, Ward Hill]. Draft of memoranda re: Clephane and Weston. [Approximately 1861].
  4. [Lamon, Ward Hill]. Memoranda [on] a mediated attempt to break the military prison on Capitol Hill. [Approximately 1862].
  5. [Lamon, Ward Hill]. The Abolitionists : a fragment of an address]. [Approximately 1866?]
  6. Russell, John H. To the ... Court of Claims of the United States : [Representation regarding land constituting what is known as the Hot Springs Reservation ... in the State of Arkansas : incomplete draft in the hand of Ward H. Lamon]. [After 1870].
  7. Holliday, Wm. H. Translation of Greek. [Approximately 1880]
  8. [Lamon, Ward Hill]. "The Nautodometer." [Approximately 1880]
  9. [Lamon, Ward Hill]. [Notes on politics in the United States]. [Approximately 1880].
  10. [Blaine, James Gillespie]. To [Lord Granville?] [Fragment of a report on the cattle disease in the United States (contemporary copy in the handwriting of Dorothy Lamon)]. [Approximately 1881].
  11. [Lamon, Ward Hill]. To "Mr. Editor" [memoranda on the Race Question]. [Approximately 1886].
  12. [Lamon, Ward Hill]. [Draft of memorandum on advice to Lincoln from Comte Agénor de Gasparin]. [Approximately 1890].
  13. [Lamon, Ward Hill]. [Notes on politics in the United States]. [Approximately 1892].
  14. [Lamon, Ward Hill]. [Anecdote: Lincoln's fees (incomplete handwritten manuscript)].
  15. [Lamon, Ward Hill]. [Lincoln & his humor].
  16. [Lamon, Ward Hill]. Lincoln's kindness to our wounded soldiers.
  17. [Lamon, Ward Hill]. Notes re: Gen D. Green.
  18. [Lamon, Ward Hill]. Notes re: raising Confederate Vessels [incomplete].
  19. Miscellaneous fragments of drafts, notes, etc.


Volume 1

Herndon, William Henry. Life of Lincoln original manuscript. Vol. I

Volume 2

Herndon, William Henry. Life of Lincoln original manuscript. Vol. II

Volume 3

Herndon, William Henry. Life of Lincoln original manuscript. Vol. III

Volume 4

Lamon, Ward Hill. Life of Lincoln original manuscript. Vols. I-II.