To fully appreciate and understand the history of the Lincoln Motorcar and the Company, you must first look at its founder, Henry Martyn Leland. Born February 16, 1843 to parents Leander and Zilpha Leland in Barton, Vermont he was raised in a devoutly Christian household in a strict and frugal manner with an active sense of morality. His being named Henry Martyn after the noted British missionary in India provides some insight to his upbringing. At a little over the age of 14 in Worcester, Massachusetts, Leland went to work as an apprentice mechanic in the textile industry at the Crompton-Knowles Loom Works. As the US Civil War broke out, Leland attempted to enlist in the Union Army but was denied because of age. Leland idolized the new President Abraham Lincoln and the profound belief of the UnionТs cause. However, his skills were not overlooked and he was first assigned to supply a Blanchard lathe to the Springfield Armory and was eventually employed there as an expert mechanic. This becomes a significant part of LelandТs professional training as it exposed him to mass production and interchangeability. Interchangeability and precision was the corner stones of what made American machine tools the premier in the world, especially when applied to firearms and munitions. At the end of the Civil War, Leland was laid off from the Armory, but was quickly hired by the Colt gun factory in Hartford, Connecticut where he spent two years making precision his Уall consuming goal.Ф On November 7, 1869 LelandТs only son Wilfred was born and would later play important roles in several business ventures to include Lincoln.
After Colt, Leland landed a position with the well-known company of Brown and Sharpe, a world leader in the machine tool and measurement industry. During the last half of the 1880Тs, Leland would travel around the mid west of the United States as a sales representative to machine tool companies providing advice and selling products. One such visit was to George Westinghouse who was failing in manufacturing precision air brake assemblies for the railroad, that is until Leland came along. Leland, in 1890 finally was able make a long time ambition come true when he along with two partners founded a machine shop under the name Leland, Faulconer, and Norton. The company was slightly reorganized when Norton left the company in 1894 and was now just Leland and Faulconer. Wilfred, now in his early twenties was also part of the firm. The company excelled at manufacturing steam and gas engine parts mainly for the marine industry.
In 1899, Ransom Olds approached Leland and Faulconer for the manufacture of transmission gears as he had tried on his own and failed. Olds eventually gave orders for complete engines under identical specifications to both the Leland and Faulconer machine shop and to a shop run by John and Horace Dodge. The Leland and Faulconer engines were rated at 3.7 HP vs. the Dodge BrotherТs version at 3.0 HP. The difference was attributed to precision machining. Once during an auto show in Detroit, the two engines were running Уside-by-sideФ with gauges showing identical performance. A man appeared from the crowd and showed the senior Mr. Leland that the Leland and Faulconer engine had a brake mechanism attached to the engine to slow it down to match the speed of the untampered Dodge brotherТs engine. The mysterious man from the crowd would later be realized by Leland as Henry Ford.
In the early summer of 1902, William Murphy representing a group of stockholders of an automobile company approached Leland to advise them on manufacturing their Уmotorcarriage.Ф The company was the Henry Ford Company. The stockholderТs complaint was that Ford was tinkering and trying to make a racecar and the investors wanted to manufacture a car for profit. Upon the entrance of Leland, Ford left the Company with great disgust, agreeing on only a small cash settlement and insisted on changing of the company name. Rather than disbanding, Leland convinced the Board to keep the company intact and true to his sense of tradition it was named after the French founder of the city of Detroit, the Cadillac Automobile Company. The arrangement was to be like that with Olds, Leland and Faulconer would supply engines to Cadillac. The car itself was designed by L & F employees Alanson Brush, Ernest Sweet and Frank Johnson. This arrangement however was not satisfactory to Cadillac who within a year urged Leland to merge with them. In October 1905, Faulconer was bought out, Henry Leland took over as General Manager and Wilfred was assigned as assistant Treasurer (under Murphy) of Cadillac. Under LelandТs management, Cadillac won the coveted British Dewar Trophy based on interchangeability.