Graduated from Harvard University and trained in law, Levi Lincoln fought as a Minuteman in the AMERICAN REVOLUTION and subsequently held several offices in the revolutionary government of Massachusetts. In 1780 he was a delegate to the convention that drafted the state constitution. After the Revolution he became a leader of the Massachusetts bar as well as a member of the legislature.
In 1781, Lincoln successfully argued in Quock Walker's Case (Caldwell v. Jennison) that the passage in the MASSACHUSETTS CONSTITUTION declaring that "all men are born free and equal" prohibited any legal recognition of slavery in the state. The decision effectively abolished slavery in Massachusetts.
Having early become a leader of the Republican party,
Lincoln served from 1801 to 1805 as attorney general of the United States in the first administration of THOMAS JEFFERSON. In 1811 he declined, on the ground of failing eyesight...