Benjamin Lincoln and the American Revolution

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University of South Carolina Press, Mar 1, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 307 pages
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In the definitive biography of one of America's most important but least known Revolutionary War generals, David B. Mattern tells the life story of Benjamin Lincoln, a prosperous farmer who left the comfort of his Massachusetts home to become a national hero in America's struggle for independence. Mattern's account of the citizen-soldier who served as George Washington's second-in-command at Yorktown and as secretary at war from 1781 to 1783 revisits the challenges, sacrifices, triumphs, and defeats that shaped Lincoln's evolution from affluent middle-aged family man to pillar of a dynamic republic. In addition to offering new insights into leadership during the Revolutionary period, Lincoln's life so mirrored his times that it provides an opportunity to tell the tale of the American Revolution in a fresh, compelling way. Historians generally have been unkind to Lincoln, but Mattern refutes charges that the general was lethargic, corrupt, and ineffective. He points out that Lincoln was one of Washington's most trusted commanders, displaying courage, energy, and leadership on battlefields as diverse as Saratoga and Savannah, Charleston and Yorktown. Mattern gives a thorough account of all of the general's military experiences and, of particular interest, offers an unconventional assessment of his failure in one of the most critical episodes of the war - his command of the Southern Department in 1779 and 1780. After charting Lincoln's wartime fortunes, Mattern chronicles the patriot's foiled attempts to translate national renown into entrepreneurial success. He tells of Lincoln's crowning military and political achievement when, in 1786, he was called to arms once more to suppress Shays'sRebellion. Mattern also describes Lincoln's subsequent election to the lieutenant governorship of Massachusetts - a political career ended by a feud with John Hancock - and his final years of federal service as collector of the port of Boston.

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About the author (1998)

A research associate professor and associate editor of The Papers of James Madison at the University of Virginia.

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