Former Norwich statesman Lafayette Foster will be the subject of a talk Tuesday as part of The William B. Stanley Lecture Series. Matthew Warshauer, Central Connecticut State University history professor and co-chairman of the Connecticut Civil War Commemoration Commission, will speak about Foster beginning at 7 p.m. at Slater Auditorium at Norwich Free Academy.
Former Norwich statesman Lafayette Foster will be the subject of a talk Tuesday as part of The William B. Stanley Lecture Series.
Matthew Warshauer, Central Connecticut State University history professor and co-chairman of the Connecticut Civil War Commemoration Commission, will speak about Foster beginning at 7 p.m. at Slater Auditorium at Norwich Free Academy.
The William B. Stanley Lecture Series honors the late William B. Stanley’s passion for Norwich’s rich history by featuring an annual lecture series relevant to the history of Norwich and delivered by an eminent scholar. Stanley founded the Norwich Historical Society in 2001 and served as the organization’s president.
Lafayette S. Foster was born in Franklin Nov. 22, 1806, and after receiving his law degree from Brown University in 1828, he moved to Centerville, Md., where he passed the bar.
Shortly after, he returned to Connecticut and moved to Norwich to study under Calvin Goddard. Historian Francis Caulkins described Foster’s talents as a lawyer this way: “He has acquired an honorable reputation … particularly noted for tact, decision and impartiality.”
Foster was an active public servant and served as mayor of Norwich, elected as a state representative, speaker of the state House of Representatives, elected as a Republican senator to the U.S. Senate and served as president pro-tempore of the U.S. Senate.
On the evening of April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The nation went into mourning; business ceased and many citizens draped their private homes in black curtains. Many Norwich politicians such as Gov. William Buckingham and Foster immediately left for Washington to assist with the tumultuous situation.
Following Lincoln’s assassination, Vice President Andrew Johnson was elevated to president and Foster became acting vice president. John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators planned to assassinate not only Lincoln, but Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward as well. Miraculously, Seward survived the attack and George Atzerdot couldn’t bring himself to kill Johnson. However, if the plot did succeed as planned, Norwich’s Lafayette Foster would have become president.
Join Warshauer for a broad look at Foster’s life and an in-depth discussion of his views on slavery, compromise and the Union. Foster served as a pillar of the Norwich Community, his home is on the Norwich Free Academy campus, and he is buried in Yantic Cemetery. The annual lecture series is free, however, in order to continue to provide engaging and educational programs to the public, this year’s lecture series will ask for a $5 donation.
Visit norwichhistoricalsociety.org or the Society’s Facebook page for updated information on this and future events.