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Levi Lincoln (1801–1804) - Attorney General

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Levi Lincoln was born in Hingham, Massachusetts, on May 15, 1749, and graduated from Harvard University in 1772. He built a distinguished political career over many years of state and federal service, performing the duties of judge, legislator, and attorney general.

Following a brief stint as a minuteman in the Revolutionary Army (1776-1777), Lincoln held various legal titles in Massachusetts from 1777 to 1781, such as clerk of the court, judge of probate, and county prosecutor in Worcester County.

He was also a member of the committee of public safety, and in 1779 he became a delegate to the state constitutional convention. In 1781, Lincoln resumed his legal practice that the Revolutionary War had interrupted, only to reenter public service as a Massachusetts state representative (1796) and senator (1797-1798).He entered the United States Congress as a representative in 1800, and in 1801, President Thomas Jefferson appointed him attorney general. Lincoln served in that post until 1805 and also functioned as interim secretary of state for two months in 1801. Upon returning to Massachusetts, Lincoln served on the Governor's Council (1806 and 1810-1812), as lieutenant governor (1807-1808) and as governor (1808-1809). He retired in 1812 and died in Worcester, Massachusetts, on April 14, 1820.

Citation Information

Consulting Editor

Peter Onuf

Professor Onuf is the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor of History at the University of Virginia. His writings include:

Jefferson’s Empire: The Language of American Nationhood (University Press of Virginia, 2001)

Statehood and Union: A History of the Northwest Ordinance (Indiana University Press, 1987)

Origins of the Federal Republic: Jurisdictional Controversies in the United States, 1775–1787 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983)