Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Union League of Philadelphia, founded in 1862 as a patriotic society to support the Union and the policies of Abraham Lincoln, will host its annual Open House on Saturday February 4, 2012 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The public is invited to stay after the open house for a special presentation by Bob O’Connor, author and historian, “Ward Hill Lamon: Abraham Lincoln’s personal bodyguard.”
The Open House and the Ward Lamon program are free and open to the public.
O’Connor, who lives in Charles Town, West Virginia, has ortrayed Lamon in programs at schools, historical venues, and civic organizations in six states. He has authored the only account of Lamon’s life, a historical fiction book called “The Virginian Who Might Have Saved Lincoln.” He also has edited the only book Lamon ever wrote, “The Life of Abraham Lincoln As President,” written in the 1880s but never published. Mr. O’Connor found the manuscript in the Huntington Library in California and purchased the rights to publish it. He added over 1700 footnotes. The book was published for the first time in December 2010.
Ward Hill Lamon is largely a forgotten figure in history, according to O’Connor. “He was born just a few miles from where I live, and moved to Danville, Illinois at age 18. There he became a new attorney assigned to the 8th Circuit Court where Abraham Lincoln was a long established lawyer. Lamon and Lincoln were law partners from 1852-1856, defending 114 cases in Vermilion County, Illinois. Lincoln took Lamon with him to Washington and became the unofficial presidential bodyguard. Lamon was with Mr. Lincoln every single day of his presidency until Tuesday,
April 11, 1865, when the president sent Lamon on a special assignment.
Lamon did not want to leave Mr. Lincoln unguarded, as he felt there was still danger. The Lincolns went to Ford’s Theater on April 14 in spite of Lamon’s urging that he not leave the White House, and the rest is history.”
O’Connor thinks Lamon is overlooked by historians. “He was probably Abraham Lincoln’s most trusted friend. He had more access to President Lincoln during the Civil War than anyone else. To say he is an insignificant character is quite outlandish.”
O’Connor, speaking as Ward Lamon, will tell of his friendship with
Abraham Lincoln, personal experiences they had, and the tragic loss of his life-long friend. At the end of the program, Mr. Lamon will take questions and will answer them in character.