President Biden's great-great-grandfather pardoned by Abraham Lincoln

 February 20, 2024

Fans of Abraham Lincoln were probably shocked to learn that he has a centuries-old link to President Joe Biden.

According to CBS News, the 16th president of the United States pardoned President Biden's great-great-grandfather "after a late-night Civil War-era brawl."

The Washington Post first broke the story, revealing that court martial records from the U.S. National Archives indicated Moses J. Robinette was the recipient of a pardon from Honest Abe himself.

The brawl that sparked the need for a pardon happened in 1864, documents revealed.

Biden's ancestor was charged with attempted murder after he fought with fellow Union Army civilian employee John J. Alexander. The scuffle happened at the Army of the Potomac's winter camp in Virginia.

Alexander reportedly went after Robinette after he overheard him say something about him to one of the cooks at the camp.

The brawl turned potentially deadly when Robinette drew his pocketknife and slashed Alexander multiple times before others finally stepped in and broke up the fight before it turned fatal.

CBS News noted:

The 42-year-old, who had been hired by the Army as a veterinary surgeon, insisted that Alexander "possibly might have injured me seriously had I not resorted to the means I did."

Military court judges didn't buy Robinette's version of the situation and ultimately sentenced him to two years of hard labor.

Robinette went on to catch a very lucky break after three Army officers petitioned Lincoln to pardon Robinette, arguing that his life truly was in danger, especially given that Alexander was reportedly "superior in strength and size" to Biden's great-great-grandfather.

President Lincoln ultimately agreed with the Army officers and pardoned Robinette on Sept. 1 of that same year, sparing him from years of hard labor and an attempted murder charge on his permanent record.

Historian David J. Gerleman wrote, the "slender sheaf of 22 well-preserved pages of his trial transcript, unobtrusively squeezed among many hundreds of other routine court-martial cases in the National Archives, reveals the hidden link between the two men — and between two presidents across the centuries."

He added, "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."

Robinette died in 1903.