Continental General Benjamin Lincoln
Revolutionary War: 1780-1781
Maj. General Benjamin Lincoln was paroled following his surrender of Charleston on May 12, 1780, but he did not reach Philadelphia until July 1780. He requested a court of inquiry, but none was appointed and no charges were ever brought against him. He returned to his farm at Hingham and waited to be exchanged. Finally in November, 1780, he was exchanged for Maj. General William Philips and Baron Friedrich von Riedesel, both of whom had been captured at Saratoga. He spent the winter recruiting and gathering supplies in Massachusetts.
In the summer of 1781, Lincoln commanded troops around New York City. In August 1781, General George Washington picked Lincoln to lead the American army in its march south to Yorktown. Various myths have grown out of the Yorktown surrender ceremony on October 20, 1781. Lt. General Charles Cornwallis claimed illness and sent his second-in-command Brig. General Charles O'Hara in his stead. O'Hara is said to have attempted to first surrender his sword to French General Comte de Rochambeau. Rochambeau declined his sword, deferring to Washington. Washington is then said to have instructed O'Hara to surrender the sword to his second-in-command, Lincoln.
After the Revolutionary War: 1781-1810
Benjamin Lincoln was appointed Secretary of War on October 30, 1781.He held the post until the signing of the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783. In 1784, he got involved with land speculating in Maine and was chosen as the agent to negotiate a treaty with the Penobscot Indians. On January 1, 1787, Lincoln was appointed to command of the militia that put down the Shays Rebellion. He captured the last 150 men of that band on February 3, 1787. In 1787, Lincoln was elected Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts.
In 1788, Lincoln was a member of the state convention to ratify the United States Constitution. In 1789, he was defeated in his reelection bid for Lieutenant Governor. He was appointed collector of the port of Boston and also served as an agent during various negotiations with Indians. Harvard had awarded him an M.A. degree in 1780. He was also one of the first members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. On March 1, 1809, he retired from his post in Boston. He died in Hingham on May 9, 1810.
2. Boatner, Michael; Encyclopedia of the American Revolution
3. Buchanan, John; The Road to Guilford Courthouse
Topic Last Updated: 12/22/2002
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