#143 on the list of 150 Most Teachable Lincoln Documents
“Capt. Derrickson, with his company, has been, for some time keeping guard at my residence, now at the Soldiers Retreat. He, and his Company are very agreeable to me; and while it is deemed proper for any guard to remain, none would be more satisfactory to me than Capt. D. and his company.”
On This Date
How Historians Interpret
“Without a doubt, it was David Derickson, above all others, who emerged as the president’s favorite new companion. In the good-natured officer from Meadville, Pennsylvania, Lincoln found someone who shared his background as a former small town resident and Republican politician. Derickson even occasionally spent nights at the cottage, reportedly sharing a bed with the president – a fact that surprised and amused his fellow officers.”
–Matthew Pinsker, Lincoln’s Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers’ Home (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 85.
“Despite its tone to modern ears, that ‘What Stuff’ comment in Fox’s diary suggests that whoever was responsible for that remark did not think so, and Chamberlin and his source had rank and status in mind, not sex, when noting the unusual intimacy between the two men. Nor is there is there other evidence of anything more than a friendship between the men. Lincoln brought Derickson with him on his famous trip to Fredericksburg to meet with McClellan in early October 1862, but he also brought several other friends and acquaintances along, including Ozias Hatch and Ward Lamon, none of whom wrote of any unusual behavior between Lincoln and Derickson. In a note of November 1, 1862, Lincoln intervened to keep Derickson and the 150th as his guard company when there was some question the unit would be transferred, but this hardly seems proof of a romantic entanglement.”
–Martin P. Johnson, “Did Abraham Lincoln Sleep with his Bodyguard? Another Look at the Evidence,” Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association 27, no. 2 (2006), 42-55.
NOTE TO READERS
This page is under construction and will be developed further by students in the new “Understanding Lincoln” online course sponsored by the House Divided Project at Dickinson College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. To find out more about the course and to see some of our videotaped class sessions, including virtual field trips to Ford’s Theatre and Gettysburg, please visit our Livestream page at http://new.livestream.com/gilderlehrman/lincoln