Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Lincoln, Levi

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LINCOLN, Levi, statesman, b. in Hingham, Mass., 15 May, 1749; d. in Worcester, Mass., 14 April, 1820. His father, a farmer of Hingham, destined his son for mechanical employment, but, during his apprenticeship, the latter devoted his leisure to study, and entered Harvard, where he was graduated in 1772. When the battle of Lexington occurred he was studying law in Northhampton, but went as a volunteer with the minute-men to Cambridge. He was zealous in the cause of independence, and was the author of numerous patriotic appeals, and a series of political papers entitled “Farmer's Letters.” Between 1775 and 1781 he was successively clerk of the court and judge of probate of Worcester county. In 1779 he was government commissioner for confiscated estates under the absentee acts, and also to expedite the payment of the Continental tax. He was a delegate to the convention in Cambridge for framing a state constitution, and in 1781 was elected to the Continental congress, but declined to serve. In 1796 he was a member of the house of representatives, and in 1797 of the senate, of Massachusetts. In 1800 he was elected to congress as a Whig, in place of Dwight Foster, who had been chosen to the senate, serving from 6 Feb., 1801, till 3 March of that year, when he was appointed attorney-general of the United States. During the few months preceding the arrival of James Madison he was provisional secretary of state. At the end of Jefferson's first term in March, 1805, he resigned, and in 1806 elected a member of the council of Massachusetts. In 1807-'8 he was lieutenant-governor of the state, and, after the death of Gov. James Sullivan in December, 1808, he was acting governor until the following May. In 1811 he was appointed by President Madison an associate justice of the U. S. supreme court, but declined, owing to his failing sight, which terminated in almost total blindness. A partial restoration of vision enabled him afterward to resume his classical studies and the cultivation of his farm. He was an original member of the American academy of arts and sciences, and a member of other learned societies, and from the close of the Revolution was considered the head of the Massachusetts bar. — His son, Levi, governor of Massachusetts, b. in Worcester, Mass., 25 Oct., 1782; d. there, 29 May, 1868, was graduated at Harvard in 1802. He studied law with his father, was admitted to the bar in 1805, and began to practise in Worcester. Between 1812 and 1822 he was elected several times to the legislature, was speaker of the house in 1822, and an active member of the Democratic party. In 1814 he entered warmly into the debate in opposition to the Hartford convention, and drew up a protest against that body, which was signed by seventy-five other members of the legislature and widely circulated. In 1820 he was a member of the convention called to revise the constitution of Massachusetts, was lieutenant-governor of the state in 1823, and in 1824 was appointed judge of the supreme court. In 1825 he was selected by both political parties as their candidate for governor of the state, which office he held until 1834. He is believed to have been the first governor under the state constitution that exercised the veto power. The measure that he vetoed was an act for building a new bridge between Boston and Charlestown. From 1835 till 1841 he served in congress, having been chosen as a Whig. In 1841 he became collector of the port of Boston, and in 1844-45 he was a member of the state senate, of which he was president in the latter year. He was presidential elector in 1848, and presided over the electoral college. Upon the organization of his native town as a city in 1848 he became its first mayor. He was an active member of the American antiquarian society, of the American academy of arts and sciences, and of the Massachusetts historical and agricultural societies. He received the degree of LL. D. from Williams in 1824, and from Harvard in 1826. — Another son, Enoch, governor of Maine, b. in Worcester. Mass., 28 Dec., 1788; d. in Augusta, Me., 8 Oct., 1829, entered Harvard in 1806, but was not graduated. He studied law with his brother Levi at Worcester, where he was admitted to the bar in 1811, and began to practise in Salem, but in 1812 removed to Fryeburg, Me., and in 1819 to the neighboring town of Paris. He was elected to congress, serving from 16 Nov., 1818, till 3 March, 1821. When Maine became a state he was again elected to congress, serving from 1821 till 1826, when he resigned. In 1827 he was elected governor of Maine, and twice re-elected with little opposition, serving until his death. His proclamations were marked by peculiar felicity and terseness of expression, and his official correspondence included an energetic vindication of the rights of the state in the question of the northeast boundary. Bowdoin gave him the degree of M. A. in 1821. He delivered a poem at the centennial celebration of the fight at Lovewell's Pond, and an oration at the laying of the corner-stone of the state capitol at Augusta, in July, 1829. He had declined a renomination for governor, resolving to devote his life to agriculture and to study. He contributed papers on the Indian languages and the French missions in Maine, to the first volume of the “Maine Historical Collections,” and left an unfinished manuscript on the history, resources, and policy of Maine. He was the author of a poem entitled “The Village,” descriptive of the scenery and romance of the town of Fryeburg (1816). — Another son, William, antiquarian, b. in Worcester in 1801; d. there, 5 Oct., 1843, was graduated at Harvard in 1822, and studied law with his brother Levi. He edited the “National Ægis,” and was one of the publishers of the “Worcester Magazine” in 1826-'7. He delivered an oration at Worcester on 4 July, 1816, and was the author of a “History of Worcester” (Worcester, 1837; new ed., by Charles Hersey, 1862).