It has been only within the last ten years that the descent of Abraham Lincoln from the Lincolns of Hingham, Massachusetts, has been established with any degree of certainty. The satisfactory proof of his lineage is a matter of great importance. In a way it explains Lincoln. It shows that he came of a family endowed with the spirit of adventure, of daring, of patriotism, and of thrift; that his ancestors were men who for nearly two hundred years before he was born were active and well-to-do citizens of Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Virginia, men who everywhere played their parts well. Abraham Lincoln was but the flowering of generations of upright, honorable men.
The first we learn of the Lincolns in this country is between the years 1635 and 1645, when there came to the town of Hingham, Massachusetts, from the west of England, eight men of that name. Three of these, Samuel, Daniel, and Thomas, were brothers. Their relationship, if any, to the other Lincolns who came over from the same part of the country at about the same time is not clear. Two of these men, Daniel and Thomas, died without heirs; but Samuel left a large family, including four sons. Among the descendants of Samuel Lincoln’s sons were many good citizens and prominent public officers. One was a member of the Boston Tea Party, and served as a captain of artillery in the War of the Revolution. Others were privates in that war. Three served on the brig “Hazard” during the Revolution. Levi Lincoln, a great-great-grandson of Samuel, born in Hingham in 1749, and graduated from Harvard, was one of the minute-men at Cambridge immediately after the battle of Lexington, 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. He was a member of the House of Representatives and of the Senate of Massachusetts, and was appointed Attorney-General of the United States by Jefferson; for a few months preceding the arrival of Madison he was Secretary of State, and in 1807 he was elected Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts. In 1811 he was appointed Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court by President Madison, an office which he declined. From the close of the Revolutionary War he was considered the head of the Massachusetts bar.