Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

CAL

LINCOLN AND HIS

HIS PRESIDENCY.

CHAPTER I.

Lineage - Lincoln Migrations.

President Lincoln's grandfather, a Kentucky pioneer who bore the same name and met a like fate, was the son of John Lincoln, a Virginia planter of good estate who had removed from Pennsylvania to the Shenandoah Valley many years before the Revolution. The first of this line born in America was Mordecai Lincoln, grandfather of John, of Virginia, and son of Samuel Lincoln, a native of England, who was one of the early settlers of Massachusetts. The surname is ancient and honorable, having a common origin with the name of an English county, derived from that of a Roman settlement on the site of Lincoln City. The last syllable, with its troublesome mute, is a shortening of the Latin colonia. There are instances in early New England documents in which a scribe has written “ Linklon” or “ Linkhorn" for Lincoln, but none is found in which an autograph signature is thus deformed. The American general after whom one of the three original counties of Kentucky was

[ocr errors]

named used to be called “Linkhorn" by Southern soldiers. The same bad habit once prevailed more or less in England. On a pillar of the old cathedral of Winchester a small plate of brass, with an engraved inscription, commemorates a martial hero born in “ Linkhorne sheire." *

Samuel Lincoln, a native of Norfolk County, England, was eighteen years old when, in 1637, he settled at Hingham, on Massachusetts Bay. An older brother, Thomas “the weaver," was already there, and another brother, Daniel, came near the same time. There were other Lincolns less nearly related to Samuel among the first proprietors there, including Thomas “the cooper," from whom descended General Benjamin Lincoln of the Revolution. All appear to have been good citizens of the early New England type — plain, industrious, religious people, well esteemed by their neighbors. They or their immediate descendants were connected by marriage with a good share of the families in a community honored by many names of distinction. Of their English ancestry little is definitely known.

Hingham, beautiful in situation, on the southern shore of the bay, a few miles from Boston, had from the first a double industrial life of land and sea — not only farming and mechanic arts, but shipping also, for there were fisheries as well as coast traffic and travel, or even remoter ventures. The original settler did not always stick to the trade he had learned; there was a craving for independent tenure of land; and no virtuous method of gain was despised. If all came here to enjoy freedom of

* Milner's History of Winchester, II., 75-6.

conscience, few lacked equal zeal to better their worldly condition. Samuel Lincoln had been apprenticed to a weaver, and may have followed this calling for a time, but we find him later described as a mariner. His oldest son, Samuel junior, was a carpenter, held local office, and served as a trooper in the King Philip War. His great-grandson, Levi Lincoln, a Harvard graduate, was Attorney General under President Jefferson, and declined an appointment to the Supreme Bench from President Madison. He had a brother Abraham, of Worcester, who was a man of local note, and two sons, who were New England Governors — Levi Lincoln, junior, of Massachusetts, and Enoch Lincoln, of Maine.

Another son of the immigrant Samuel, Mordecai Lincoln (1657-1727), was a busy and prosperous man — blacksmith, iron founder, owner of mills and lands and became one of the richest colonists of his time. By his wife Sarah, daughter of Abraham Jones, of Hull, he had three sons — Mordecai, junior, Abraham, and Isaac,

and by a second marriage, late in life, he had a son Jacob, born in 1711. Not far from this date the two oldest brothers, already of age, sought new homes in New Jersey, afterward crossing the Delaware — their local relation to Philadelphia being, all the while, like that of their immediate progenitors to Boston. In spite of Puritan and Quaker antagonism there was no impassable gulf between the two communities. A Harvard graduate, who was a school teacher in Hingham when these two Lincoln brothers were boys, and who was the son of a partner of their father, had founded the first Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia; and here a youth

from Boston, named Benjamin Franklin, for some time attended on his ministration — not altogether with

profit. *

The second Mordecai married Hannah, daughter of Judge Richard Salter, of Monmouth County, New Jersey. John Bowne, a near relative of her mother, left an estate substantial enough to support a protracted contest over its distribution, Mordecai Lincoln being one of the defendants. Disposing of his mining interests in Chester County, Pennsylvania, in 1725, he bought and settled on a large tract of land in what is now Berks County, where he died in 1736. He fraternized with the Society of Friends, was a man of good condition, and in legal papers was styled “gentleman." In his will he bequeathed to his son John three hundred acres of land in New Jersey, derived from the latter's maternal grandfather, Richard Salter, and divided the Berks County tract between three sons by a second marriage. The youngest of these, Abraham, resided all his life in the house his father had built near the city of Reading; served several terms in the Legislature, and was a member of the Convention which framed the first Constitution of Pennsylvania.

In this region a generation of Lincolns and Boones grew up together, and the families were allied by marriage. Before Daniel Boone removed with his father to the Yadkin River country, in North Carolina, John Lincoln settled in the Upper Shenandoah Valley, where

* The preacher in question, of whom Franklin writes in his autobiography without giving his name, was the Rev. Jedidiah Andrews.

« PreviousContinue »