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Ward Hill Lamon


Ward Hill Lamon (January 6, 1828-May 7, 1893) was a friend to President Abraham Lincoln and served as his personal bodyguard. Lamon was born in Summit Point, Jefferson County, and raised in nearby Mill Creek (now Bunker Hill), Berkeley County. At 18, he moved to Danville, Illinois, upon the invitation of a cousin.

Lamon became a lawyer and was Lincoln’s law partner from 1852 until 1856, when Lamon was elected prosecuting attorney for Vermilion County, Illinois. When Lincoln was elected president in 1860, he took Lamon with him to Washington. Officially, Lamon served as U.S. federal marshal of the District of Columbia, overseeing the district’s prisons. Unofficially, he was bodyguard to the president. At six feet, four inches tall, Lamon was well suited for the job. He reportedly carried about 60 pounds of armaments, including two Colt pistols. He monitored Lincoln’s movements and sometimes slept on the floor outside the president’s bedroom.

After the war ended. Lincoln sent Lamon to Richmond. Before leaving, Lamon urged the president not to leave the White House while Lamon was out of town. Nevertheless, Lincoln went to Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865, guarded by an officer from the Metropolitan Police Department. John Wilkes Booth assassinated the president that evening.

After Lincoln’s death, Lamon returned to West Virginia to practice law. He was considered for the Republican nomination for governor of West Virginia in 1876, but the nomination went to Nathan Goff Jr., who eventually lost to Democrat Henry Mason Mathews. Lamon ran for Congress that year but lost. Ward Hill Lamon died in Martinsburg and is buried in the Presbyterian Cemetery in Gerrardstown. A book written by Lamon, The Life of Abraham Lincoln As President, was discovered recently and published for the first time.

Written by Robert O'Connor