Near Wells Property, Hwy. 144, Addison (Breckinridge County)
Granite marker topped by bronze eagle, 1894
Inscription: Joseph Holt. Orator and Statesman. Born Jan. 6, 1807, Died Aug. 1, 1894. Held Successively the Offices of Commissioner of Patents, Postmaster-General, Secretary of War and Judge Advocate-General During the Civil War.
Located in a family cemetery, this monument is one of the few to honor the Union in Kentucky. The eight-foot-tall polished granite headstone is engraved with a stars and stripes shield, crossed sword and scabbard and large ring. A bronze eagle with outstretched wings is perched on top.
Joseph Holt, born in Breckinridge County, was a well-known attorney and orator who supported James Buchanan candidacy for president, with Kentuckian John C. Breckinridge as vice-president. President Buchanan appointed him Commissioner of Patents in 1857, Postmaster General in 1859, and Secretary of War in 1860.
During this tumultuous time, he was instrumental in keeping Kentucky loyal to the Union. In 1862, Abraham Lincoln appointed him to the newly-created office of Judge Advocate General with the rank of colonel; in 1864 he was promoted to brigadier general and named to head the new Bureau of Military Justice. He was brevetted major general in 1865. Holt played a major role in the trial of President Lincoln's assassins.
Research the symbolism of the shield, sword and scabbard, and eagle. What do they mean? Where else do you find these symbols?
Investigate each of the important government positions Joseph Holt held. What kind of responsibilities did he hold in each?
Why was he involved with the trial of Lincoln's assassins? Research the events around the trial. How did the emotions of the country play a role in these events?