“I know of nothing so pleasant to the mind, as the discovery of anything which is at once new and valuable — nothing which so lightens and sweetens toil, as the hopeful pursuit of such discovery.” – Abraham Lincoln, Sixteenth President of the United States
Today is Abraham Lincoln’s two-hundred-and-sixth birthday. To mark the occasion, we wanted to cover a brief history of the brand that has born his name for most of a century.
There must be an exclusive club for American entrepreneurs who founded rival brands and were summarily forced out of both of them. If there is, Henry Leland is a founding member. He started Cadillac in 1902 and ran it profitably until 1909 when he sold the brand to General Motors. Leland stayed on as an executive, advising and continuing to improve aspects of the car and its assembly line. War time brought internal disputes between Leland, who was contracted to build engines for the military, and William C. Durant, a GM founder and a pacifist.
With no other way to resolve their disagreement, Leland left and used his $10 million contract with the government to establish Lincoln Motor Company in 1917, which produced the V12 Liberty engine until the end of the war. He ran the company with his son, Wilfred Leland, for several years.
Unlike with Cadillac, Leland didn’t achieve immediate success with Lincoln and soon the company fell on hard times. In 1922, it was purchased by one Henry Ford for just $8 million. Ford took particular pleasure in wresting Lincoln from Leland’s hands, as Leland’s other company, Cadillac, had been a threat to Ford’s business in the past. If that seems vindictive, well, Henry Ford wasn’t the nicest of people.
The question remains, where did the name Lincoln come from? It so happened that Leland considered him a personal hero, and he had voted for Lincoln back in the election of 1864.
As some added trivia, Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, the exact same day as another man who changed history. That man was Charles Darwin, author of On the Origin of Species. It’s because of Darwin’s work that biologists talk about the survival of the fittest. At Lincoln we have a similar rule: survival of the finest. And that’s how our brand has lasted for close to a century.
Happy birthday, Abe.
Leith Lincoln is proud to be a part of the rich history of this brand, and we remind all in Raleigh that our dealership is the best place to find a new Lincoln automobile.