Continental army general and Federalist politician.
Began life as a farmer. Served as town clerk (1757), justice of the peace (1762), delegate to Massachusetts Assembly (1772-73), and secretary of Provincial Congress (1774-75).
Commissioned in the Massachusetts militia (1755); promoted steadily, eventually reaching the rank of major-general (May 1776). Major- general in Continental army (February 1777); contributed to American victory at Saratoga. Commander of the American army in the Southern department (September 1778). Surrendered to British general Sir Henry Clinton at Charleston (May 1780); exchanged (November 1780). Participated in Yorktown campaign. Secretary of War (1781-83).
Later speculated in Maine lands, served as a state and federal Indian commissioner, and led Massachusetts troops in suppression of Shays’s Rebellion. Lieutenant governor of Massachusetts (1787). Delegate to Massachusetts convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution (1788). Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Massachusetts Historical Society; wrote papers on New England history, natural history, and Indian ethnography.
Son of Benjamin and Elizabeth (Thaxter) Lincoln of Hingham, Massachusetts. Married Mary Cushing (1756); eleven children.