his department, and is what is called a man of business. He is not, I believe, a scholar; but I think he will make the best Secretary of War he have as yet had. Mr. Lincoln is a good lawyer, a fine scholar, a man of great discretion and sound judgment, and of the mildest and most amiable manners. He has never, I should think from his manners, been out of his own State, or mixed much with the world, except on business. Both are men of 1776, sound and decided Republicans; both are men of the strictest integrity; and both, but Mr. Lincoln principally, have a great weight of character to the Eastward with both parties."
Thus Gallatin, March 12, before his own appointment, estimated the characters of his two New England colleagues. The confidence reposed in them was justified by the result. Neither Dearborn nor Lincoln showed remarkable powers, but the work they had to do was done without complaint or objection. No charge of dishonesty, of intrigue, or of selfish ambition was made against them; and they retired from office at last with as much modesty as they showed in entering it, after serving Jefferson faithfully and well.
In some respects Robert Smith was better suited than either Dearborn or Lincoln for a seat in Jefferson's Cabinet. The Smiths were strong not only in Maryland, but also in Virginia, being connected by marriage with Wilson Caty Nicholas, one of the most influential Republican politicians of the State, whose
- Life of Gallatin, p. 276.