Charles E. Stanton

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Charles E. Stanton
Charles E. Stanton (US Army Colonel).jpg
Stanton as a commissioner of the San Francisco Board of Public Works in 1929.
Born(1858-11-22)November 22, 1858
Monticello, Illinois
DiedMay 8, 1933(1933-05-08) (aged 74)
San Francisco, California
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1898–1921
UnitAmerican Expeditionary Forces
Battles/warsSpanish–American War
World War I
AwardsArmy Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Honor (France)
RelationsEdwin M. Stanton (uncle)
Other workCommissioner, San Francisco Board of Public Works

Charles Egbert Stanton (November 22, 1858 – May 8, 1933) was an officer in the United States Army, and attained the rank of colonel. A veteran of the Spanish–American War, and served as chief disbursing officer and aide to General John J. Pershing during World War I. Stanton was the nephew of Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton.[1] He is best known for having included the memorable expression "Lafayette, we are here!" in a speech he gave in Paris during the First World War.

Early life[edit]

Charles E. Stanton was born in Monticello, Illinois on November 22, 1858. As a boy he was raised in part along the roadbed of the Union Pacific Railroad during its construction as part of the First Transcontinental Railroad; his father ran businesses that catered to the construction crews, and was operating the railroad hotel at Promontory, Utah when the railroad was completed in 1869. At the ceremony on Promontory Summit where engines of the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroad touched cowcatchers to symbolize the opening of the transcontinental route, Stanton rode in the UP's engine and rang the engine's bell.

Stanton was educated in San Francisco, and then attended Santa Clara University and Yale University. He worked at silver mines in Nevada, farmed in Minnesota, sold mineral water for a company in Idaho, and sold fire extinguishers in San Francisco. He served as Chief Clerk of the Utah Territorial Assembly, and Salt Lake County Clerk. He was a delegate to the Utah constitutional convention which resulted in statehood in 1895.

Army career[edit]

In 1898 Stanton was appointed a paymaster of volunteers in the United States Army with the rank of major. He served in the Philippines during the Spanish–American War, and after his 1901 discharge accepted a regular Army commission as a captain in the paymaster corps. He continued to serve in the Army, and at the start of World War I he was a lieutenant colonel on the staff of John J. Pershing. He served as chief disbursing officer for the American Expeditionary Forces, and received the Distinguished Service Medal and the French Legion of Honor.

Stanton retired as a colonel in 1921.

Later career[edit]

After retiring from the Army, Stanton served as a member of San Francisco's Board of Public Works.[2] In 1931 he was enrolled in the American Legion as its one millionth member.[3]

Stanton died in San Francisco on May 8, 1933.[4] He was buried at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, California.[5]

Lafayette quote[edit]

On July 4, 1917, Stanton visited the tomb of French Revolution and American Revolution hero Marquis de La Fayette and (according to Pershing) said, "Lafayette, we are here!" to honor the nobleman's assistance during the Revolutionary War and assure the French people that the people of the United States would aid them in World War I. The famous quote is often misattributed to Pershing.[6]

In context, he said:

America has joined forces with the Allied Powers, and what we have of blood and treasure are yours. Therefore it is that with loving pride we drape the colors in tribute of respect to this citizen of your great republic. And here and now, in the presence of the illustrious dead, we pledge our hearts and our honor in carrying this war to a successful issue. Lafayette, we are here.[7]


  1. ^ Did They Really Say That? Quotations and Misquotations
  2. ^ "War Celebrity Made a Member of Board of Public Works". Municipal Record. 14. San Francisco, CA. San Francisco Board of Supervisors. November 17, 1921. p. 366.
  3. ^ "He's Millionth Legionnaire". Santa Cruz Evening News. Santa Cruz, CA. July 23, 1931. p. 12. (Subscription required (help)).
  4. ^ "Colonel Charles Stanton is Dead". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Santa Cruz, CA. Associated Press. May 9, 1933. p. 1. (Subscription required (help)).
  5. ^ "Stanton Rites Attended by Civic Leaders". Oakland Tribune. Oakland, CA. May 10, 1933. p. 7. (Subscription required (help)).
  6. ^ George 104.
  7. ^ Charles E. Stanton Quotations, Biography


  • George, John H. and Paul Boller (1989). They Never Said It. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • McHenry, Robert and Charles Van Doren (1971). Webster's Guide to American History. New York: Merriam.
  • (1917). "Record Crowd in Paris." The New York Times. July 6.
  • Unger, Harlow Giles (2002). Lafayette. New York: Wiley.