Lawrence Joshua Chamberlain

1828 – 1914   Scholar, Soldier, Politician

Born in Maine, fluent in nine languages, Chamberlain was a college professor at the outbreak of the US Civil War. Chamberlain volunteered as an officer and was made second-in-command of the 20th Maine Regiment. He survived the battles of Fredericksburg and Antietam to lead his regiment into the battle of Gettysburg, where he won the Medal of Honour for outstanding gallantry and leadership. At Lee’s surrender, Chamberlain, then a Major-General, was put in charge of the surrender ceremony. As the beaten Confederate soldiers passed by, acting on his own initiative, Chamberlain ordered the massed Union troops to salute – a tribute to an honoured equal, not a defeated foe.  Although bitterly criticized by some Northerners at the time, his gesture has been credited with starting the healing at the end of a brutal conflict. Afterwards, he returned to teaching and state politics, serving as President of Bowdoin College and Governor of Maine four times.

United Lodge No 8, Brunswick, Maine

Quote

“So now I say this is a good age, and we need not quarrel with it. We must understand it, if we can. At least we must do our work in it. We must have the spirit of reverence and faith, we must balance the mind and heart with God’s higher revelations, but we must also take hold of this which we call science, and which makes knowledge power. To fit a man for these countless activities he must learn something else than the past, though that were “all the wisdom of the ancients,” and if he has only ten years for instance, to fit himself in, and the bitter issue comes, then he must slight the past and not the present.”