Autobiography of Seventy Years - Vol. 1

By George F. Hoar | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXII
THE WORCESTER FIRE SOCIETY

I HAVE been for fifty years a member of another club called the Worcester Fire Society, some of whose members have had a remarkable relation to important events in the history of the country, of which the story will be worth recording. The club was founded in 1793, before the days of fire-engines, so that if the house of any of the members caught fire, his associates might come to the rescue with buckets and bags and bed-keys and other apparatus to put out the fire and save the property. But it long since became a mere social club. It is limited to thirty members.

The elder Levi Lincoln, Mr. Jefferson's intimate friend, confidential correspondent and Attorney-General in his Cabinet, organizer of the political movement which built up Mr. Jefferson's power in New England in the beginning of the last century, was not, I believe, a member of the Society himself. But his sons were, and many of his descendants and connections by marriage, certainly twelve or fifteen in all. When the office of Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States became vacant, by reason of the death of Mr. Justice William Cushing of Massachusetts, September 13, 1809, Levi Lincoln the elder was appointed, confirmed by the Senate and commissioned to fill the vacancy. Mr. Jefferson earnestly desired and urged his appointment. President Madison accompanied the offer of the office with a letter urging Mr. Lincoln to accept it in spite of a malady of the eyes from which he was suffering. Mr. Madison says he had got along very well as Attorney- General and he thinks he would find less inconvenience in discharging the duties of Judge. But Mr. Lincoln declined the office. He lived until 1820, retaining his health and vigor, except for the trouble with his eyes.

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