A Remembrance of John C. Lincoln

Robert Clancy

[Reprinted from the Henry George News, June, 1959, originally titled "John C. Lincoln -- He Was Our President". Signed as authored by the Editorial Staff. It is assumed this was written by Robert Clancy]

IN a tribute to John C. Lincoln on his last visit to the Henry George School in New York, with Mrs. Lincoln, in July, 1957, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary banquet, the vice president, Ezra Cohen, saluted him "for a lifetime of keen understanding, of signal accomplishment, and for a social conscience that expresses itself in action." He became the school's third president upon the death of Anna George de Mille, daughter of Henry George, in 1947.

Mr. Lincoln's remarks on that eve-ling were familiar to all who had read his printed messages written in the forthright language of an engineer. He was the author of Ground Rent, Not Taxes, and an earlier book, Christ's Object in Life; also of a number of booklets, the most recent of which are "Stop Legal Stealing" and 'Should Land Have Selling Value?" Earlier treatises dealt with "Scientific Taxation" and "The Natural Source of Revenue for the Government."

As most readers are aware, John Lincoln founded the Lincoln Electric Company in Cleveland in 1895. When he moved to Arizona for reasons of health, his brother, James, became resident and remains now as chairman of the board.

John C. was born at Painesville, Ohio. He studied electrical engineering and soon became a construction superintendent. He worked hard for s education, for he came from a modest family, but he soon became an inventor and out of his inventive genius came the shielded arc welding process which played an important role in the manufacture of merchant ships in World War II. His was a many-faceted life. In 1924 he was the candidate for Vice President of the United States on the Commonwealth Land party's ballot. He was an enthusiastic visitor for summers at the meetings in Chautauqua, New York, and remained until his death, a director of the Desert Mission of the Young Men's Christian Association and the Good Samaritan Hospital in Arizona.

Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln made home increasingly in Arizona, where in 1936 Mr. Lincoln built the Camelback Inn in Phoenix. He also kept busy as president of the Bagdad Copper Corporation, as well as of the Lincoln Foundation, which he founded in 1946. He is survived by Mrs. Lincoln, two daughters and three sons. David, the youngest son, now living in Cleveland with his wife and children, is a trustee of the Henry George School in New York, holds an affectionate place in hearts of all who know him.

The essential greatness and simplicity of the school's president were described with characteristic brevity his son, David, also an engineer, in 1957, when he wrote:

"Two cornerstones in my father's character are creativity and belief in individual freedom. His creativity is illustrated by the number of successful companies he has built into smooth-running organizations … and by a large number of patents on electrical inventions.

"Dad has a keen sense about people, which enables him to get along well in any situation. Underlying his relationship with others is a basic respect for individuality and belief that one should be free to determine his own life.

"These characteristics led him to study Henry George at an early age. It took more than one reading of Progress and Poverty for him to understand, all George's ideas, but once understood, he has been vigorously advocating them ever since. His attraction to Henry George is certainly understandable when one considers that George's philosophy provides an environment in which men can create wealth at a maximum rate and at the same time retain individual freedom. Dad's social philosophy is expounded in his book, Ground Rent, Not Taxes."

John C. Lincoln believed in families - and his family believed in him and honored him. We, Georgists all, would like to think of ourselves as part of that loving family, for we too, felt about him a mute affection and regard which will not diminish with the passing years.