Abraham Lincoln Pardoned Biden’s Great-Great-Grandfather

By Victor Winston, updated on February 20, 2024

A revelation about President Abraham Lincoln's clemency towards President Joe Biden's ancestor has linked two of America's leaders across time.

The discovery confirms that Lincoln pardoned Moses J. Robinette, Biden's great-great-grandfather, following a Civil War-era altercation that led to a conviction of attempted murder.

In the spring of 1864, amidst the turmoil of the United States Civil War, a confrontation escalated into violence within the ranks of the Union Army, not among soldiers, but between civilian employees. Moses J. Robinette, a veterinary surgeon hired by the Army, was embroiled in a physical dispute with John J. Alexander after a misunderstanding turned violent.

This altercation, rooted in a seemingly trivial eavesdropping incident, culminated in Robinette employing his pocketknife in what he claimed was self-defense against a significantly stronger adversary.

Despite his arguments of self-preservation, military judges convicted Robinette, sentencing him to two years of hard labor. In a remarkable turn of events, three Army officers, moved by the perceived excessive harshness of this sentence, petitioned President Abraham Lincoln for leniency. Their advocacy underscored the belief that Robinette's actions, born out of desperation and fear for his life, warranted forgiveness rather than punitive retribution.

Lincoln's Pardon: A Symbol of Mercy

On September 1, 1864, Abraham Lincoln granted Robinette a full pardon in an act that now resonates across generations. This decision, solidified in the annals of U.S. history, underscores Lincoln's capacity for compassion even during one of the nation's darkest periods. It wasn't merely a singular act of mercy but a testament to Lincoln's overarching belief in humanity's potential for redemption.

The Washington Post's recent unearthing of this story from the depths of the National Archives brings a "slender sheaf of 22 well-preserved pages" into the limelight, not merely as a piece of historical trivia but as a tangible link between the personal histories of two American presidents.

The narrative, as historian David J. Gerleman recounts, breathes life into this hitherto untold episode, revealing how the legacy of Lincoln's presidency reaches forward into the present day, intertwined with that of President Joe Biden.

Robinette's conviction and subsequent pardon, while a small footnote in the broader scope of American history, accentuate the rich tapestry of narratives that the Civil War era encapsulates. These stories, many still shrouded in the mists of history, offer glimpses into the individual lives caught in the crossfire of a divided nation.

The Biden Connection: A Family Legacy

Moses J. Robinette's legacy, preserved through family memories and now historical documentation, offers a unique vantage point from which to view President Joe Biden's lineage. The middle name 'Robinette,' carried by Biden as an homage to his ancestors, symbolizes the enduring bonds of family and the echoes of the past that resonate in the present. His ascension to the presidency is thus not merely the culmination of a political career but also the continuation of a familial narrative deeply embedded within the American experience.

Beyond its immediate implications, this story serves as a poignant reminder of the myriad untold tales that dot the landscape of American history. In the words of David J. Gerleman, "Those few pages not only fill in an unknown piece of Biden family history but also serve as a reminder of just how many Civil War stories have yet to be told."

Awash in the broader currents of history, the pardon of Moses J. Robinette by Abraham Lincoln stands out as a testament to the interconnectedness of the American narrative. As our understanding of the past evolves, such revelations enrich our comprehension of historical figures and remind us of the complexities and nuances that define our collective heritage.

To conclude, the recent revelation of Abraham Lincoln's pardon of Moses J. Robinette encapsulates far more while surfacing a unique familial connection between President Lincoln and Biden.

It highlights the enduring relevance of history, the power of clemency, and the inextricable links that bind the tapestry of American leadership across centuries. This story, a blend of personal legacy and national history, serves as a compelling reminder of the depth and diversity of the American experience, urging us to look beyond the surface to uncover the rich narratives that have shaped the fabric of our nation.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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