Lincoln appointed Wallace governor while he was in Washington, DC representing Washington Territory. Wallace struck out for the new territory the fastest way possible, which was a 7,000-mile journey by sea and across the Isthmus of Panama. He arrived in Lewiston, the territorial capital, on July 23, 1863. He called the Territorial Legislature together in October, and one of their first decisions was to send Wallace back to Washington, DC, this time as the territorial delegate from Idaho.
He was serving there when on Monday, April 10, 1865, President Lincoln invited he and Mrs. Wallace to attend a performance at Ford Theatre the following Friday evening. For reasons unknown, Wallace declined the invitation. Lincoln was set to reappoint Wallace as territorial governor of Idaho, but that plan was dashed when the president was shot at the theatre. Wallace became one of Lincoln’s pallbearers.
I delight in telling the often-unimportant trivia associated with a story that sometimes makes it simmer if not sizzle, so will throw one in here that matters not a whit. Okay, this time, more than one:
1. William Wallace’s brother, David Wallace, served as governor of Indiana.
2. David Wallace’s son (and William Wallace’s nephew) Lew Wallace served as second in command of the court-martial of Lincoln assassination conspirators.
3. Lew Wallace did a sketch of those on trial and later did a well-known painting based on the sketch called The Conspirators.
4. Oh, and Lew Wallace wrote the novel Ben Hur.