George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Benjamin Lincoln, 9 May 1786

From Benjamin Lincoln

Hingham [Mass.] May 9th 1786

My dear general

Mr Lear will have the honor of delivering this. I have the highest expectations that his services will be acceptable. He wishes to pursue in his liesure hours, the study of the law; his want of books may retard his progress therein—Had I been acquainted with any Gentleman of the bar in your neighbourhood, I would have solicited the loan of some books for him, but, as I am not permit me to ask your Excellencys attention to this matter, hereby you will greatly serve my young friend and confer new obligations on me.1

I shall leave this part of the State in a few days for Passamaquady—we are attempting to make a settlement there—we shall be near neighbours to the refugees If they do not quarrel among themselves, they will I trust live in peace. I have the honor of being My dear General with the highest esteem Your Excellenceys Obedent humble servant

B. Lincoln

ALS, DLC:GW; AL (incomplete), MiDbEI. The first page of the incomplete letter has only slightly different wording.

1Lear wrote John Langdon from Mount Vernon on 24 July 1786: “As you were so kind, upon my leaving Portsmouth, as to desire me to write to you, and inform you of my welfare, and how I liked my situation here. I can with pleasure assure you that I enjoy my health perfectly well, and find my situation very agreeable. I have every attention paid me by His Excellency and all the family that I can wish; the duty required of me is small, and agreeable: more than one half of my time is at my own disposal, which I employ in reading the Law; the General has been so good as to procure me the favr of any books, or assistance, that I may need in the course of my reading, from Mr [Charles] Lee a Lawyer in Alexandria, and he seems desireous upon every occasion to promote whatever he thinks is agreeable to me” (NhHi: Langdon-Elwyn Family Papers). See Langdon’s letter to GW recommending Lear, which is printed in note 1, Lear to GW, 7 May.

Lincoln wrote GW the next day, 10 May: “My dear General[,] Mr Bowen will have the honor of waiting upon your Excellency and delivering this. Having, some years since, lost his health he was induced to solicit but it was with difficulty he obtained a release from his employment, as a minister of one of the congregational Churches in Boston, as he shared largely in the affections of his people—Being now much better he wishes to assume his character as a public teacher, and that in some of the southern States, as their climate he supposes would be more friendly to his constitution than a northern one. It is with pleasure that I can recommend him to your Excellency as a Gentleman of abilities, education, integrity, a lover of his country and fellow men—knowing that such a character will always meet your Excellencys kind attention I have ventured to assure him that if he should set down in any part of your country you would be his friend—I have the honor of being My dear General with the most perfect esteem your Excellencys obt servant B. Lincoln” (DLC:GW). GW does not record in his diary a visit from Penuel Bowen, who was the former minister of New South Church in Boston and since 1783 a shop owner in Boston. Bowen went to South Carolina in 1786. On 14 July 1788 he was installed rector of St. John’s Parish, Collington, in South Carolina. He died later in that year.

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