The Gettysburg National Military Park has garnered nationwide and international fame since its inception. One particular foreign dignitary that toured the battlefield was former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George on October 27, 1923. Lloyd George was a Liberal British politician from Wales who had a distinguished career in Britain. He served as Chancellor of Exchequer, Minister of Munitions, Minister of War in a long parliamentary career that culminated with him becoming Prime Minister in 1916 after ousting his party leader, Herbert Asquith. During the war he maintained an aggressive war policy which contributed to an allied victory against the Central Powers. In 1919, Lloyd George was a principal negotiator at the Paris Peace Conference, along with French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. His tenure as prime minister ended in 1922 after Conservatives withdrew their support from his coalition government.
David Lloyd George’s visit to Gettysburg was part of his 1923 tour to the United States and Canada. The purpose of the tour was to personally thank both countries for their help during the Great War. His wife, Margaret, youngest daughter, Megan, and his private secretary, A.J. Sylvester accompanied him. The party arrived in New York City on 5 October 1923 where George delivered a speech, and then travelled to Montreal, Canada. The other Canadian cities on their tour included Ottawa, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Hamilton, and Winnipeg. After completing the Canadian tour, his entourage traveled back to the United States to St. Paul and Minneapolis on October 16. The other cities on the United States tour included Chicago, Springfield, St. Louis, Louisville, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and Washington DC.
On October 27, 1923, David Lloyd George and his party drove from Washington DC to Gettysburg with Secretary of War John W. Weeks, a member of President Calvin Coolidge’s cabinet. For a few hours, Secretary Weeks acted as the official battlefield guide to Lloyd George. The former prime minister spent considerable time at the Bloody Angle and in the spot in the National Cemetery where Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg address. On Confederate Avenue, Dr. Henry W.A. Hanson, President of Gettysburg College, greeted Lloyd George on behalf of the college. The former PM then visited the college where he was cheered by students, the college band playing both the Star Spangled Banner and the British National Anthem. Lloyd George and his party returned to Washington after having lunch at the Eagle Hotel.
In Washington, Lloyd George was a guest at dinner given by journalists and later traveled to Richmond to visit the Fredericksburg and Wilderness battlefields. After Richmond, Lloyd George and his party traveled to Philadelphia and Scranton, the latter so he could observe Welsh mining communities in the United States. The party then went to New York City where they sailed back to London on November 6, thus ending their North American tour. David Lloyd George’s visit in the United States underscored the ongoing relationship between Great Britain and the United States after the Great War. His visit to Gettysburg also demonstrated international interest of the battlefield as well as the Civil War.
“David Lloyd George, 1st Early Lloyd-George of Dwyfor.” Columbic Electronic Encyclopedia.
“History-Making Day.” The Gettysburg Times, October 26, 1923.
“Lloyd George Visits Battlefield of Gettysburg and Hears Related Various Phases of Historic Fight.” The Spartanburg Herald, October 28, 1923.
“Prime Minister to Visit Field,” The Gettysburg Times, August 3, 1923.
“Out of the Past,” The Gettysburg Times, October 27, 1948.
“Lloyd George to See Gettysburg,” The Gettysburg Times, September 29, 1923.
Photo of Lloyd George at Gettysburg courtesy of Special Collections, Musselman Library, Gettysburg College.