Virginia born Ward Hill Lamon, Lincoln’s lawyer friend from Bloomington, Illinois, spent a frustrating Civil War attempting to protect the President, who appointed him the US Marshal for the District of Columbia. Lincoln took a fatalistic attitude towards security, assuming that no precautions could protect him from an assassin determined to kill him. Lamon’s frustration boiled over in an eerily prophetic letter written very early on December 10, 1864:
Washington, D. C.
Dec. 10, 1864, 1.30 o’clock, A. M.
Hon. A. Lincoln:
Sir, — I regret that you do not appreciate what I have repeatedly said to you in regard to the proper police arrangements connected with your household and your own personal safety. You are in danger. I have nothing to ask, and I flatter myself that you will at least believe that I am honest. If, however, you have been impressed differently, do me and the country the justice to dispose at once of all suspected officers, and accept my resignation of the marshalship, which is hereby tendered. I will give you further reasons which have impelled me to this course. To-night, as you have done on several previous occasions, you went unattended to the theatre. When I say unattended, I mean that you went alone with Charles Sumner and a foreign minister, neither of whom could defend himself against an assault from any able-bodied woman in this city. And you know, or ought to know, that your life is sought after, and will be taken unless you and your friends are cautious; for you have many enemies within our lines. You certainly know that I have provided men at your mansion to perform all necessary police duty, and I am always ready myself to perform any duty that will properly conduce to your interest or your safety.
God knows that I am unselfish in this matter; and I do think that I have played low comedy long enough, and at my time of life I think I ought at least to attempt to play star engagements.
I have the honor to be
Your obedient servant,
Ward H. Lamon.
Lincoln did not accept his friend’s resignation and on Good Friday in the next year when Lincoln again attended the theater, Lamon was on assignment in Richmond.