Lincoln, Frederic Walker, 1817-1898
Frederick Walker Lincoln, Jr. was born in Boston, February 27, 1817, and was educated at public and private schools. He learned the trade of a maker of mathematical instruments and soon rose to be a prominent businessman. He was a member of the lower house of the legislature in 1847, and was a delegate in 1853 to the Constitutional Convention. When he attempted, during his first term as mayor, to uniform the police, the violent opposition which it engendered charged that he was copying the "liveried" servants of the Old World. On the other hand, his supporters said that they had trouble locating a policeman in citizen's clothes, and welcomed the change which would make the policeman more conspicuous.
It was Lincoln's practice to go about the city at night, often disguised, visiting saloons and gambling houses to learn if the laws were being enforced.
He was one of the first to perceive the need of the government's taking steps to preserve Boston Harbor, and his efforts in this direction bore fruit in 1859 in obtaining the cooperation of the United States government. In the same year, plans for the improvement of the Public Garden were completed, but Lincoln's project of preserving the Back Bay as open space was defeated.
The slavery question was the most troublesome during his administration. On December 3, 1860, a collision occurred between the abolitionists and the supporters of slavery. At a meeting held in Tremont Temple for the commemoration of John Brown and to consider the questions of how slavery in America could be abolished, proslavery men seized the hall, which was not protected by the authorities, and after filling it, pronounced resolutions denouncing John Brown. The mayor had the hall cleared, and later an anti-slavery meeting was held in a black church. Incipient riots followed, which the police, with a reserve of cavalry, quelled. The conscript riots against drafting followed. Some women attacked a draft officer near the Boston Gas Lighting Company, and a mob collected which surrounded the police station and the armory. Firearms were stolen from a shop, and for a time, there was a riot at Dock Square. Lincoln called out all the soldiers, and the trouble was stopped.
During Lincoln's administration the City Council gained the right to widen, lay out, and grade streets, and to assess abutters for the improvements. The Soldiers and Sailors Monument on the Common was erected, free public baths where started, and Fort Hill was removed and the material was used to fill in the Back Bay. The new city hall was first occupied at this time, and steps were taken to construct the Chestnut Hill Reservoir during Mayor Lincoln's administration.
It was felt that Lincoln had been effective in paring the amount of city money spent on junkets, street widening, and new buildings, and this contributed to his reelection in 1863.
After his retirement, he continued to serve the city on such boards as Overseers of the Poor, and Harbor Commissioners, and was a member of the Relief Committee after the great Boston fire of 1872.
Taken from "Boston's 45 Mayors from John Phillips to Kevin H. White," City Record, Boston, 1979.
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Photographs and other images collected by the Boston Landmarks Commission for reference use and for publications as well as photographs taken by the Landmarks Commission documenting their work and city neighborhoods.