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US President Joe Biden in the Oval Office

Photo: Julia Nikhinson / EPA

US President Joe Biden has a portrait and a bust of Abraham Lincoln in the Oval Office, but his admiration for his predecessor certainly has nothing to do with an event in Biden's family history that the Washington Post has now revealed. As the newspaper reported, Biden's great-great-grandfather Moses J. Robinette was pardoned by then-President Lincoln after being convicted of a brawl in 1864.

A court transcript in the US National Archives describes the incident that led to Robinette's conviction. Biden's great-great-grandfather was employed by the Northern Army as a veterinarian during the American Civil War. At a military camp, he clashed with another civilian employee named John J. Alexander.

According to the report, Robinette overheard Alexander saying something negative about him to a kitchen worker and then ran towards him. During the ensuing scuffle, Robinette pulled out a pocket knife and inflicted several cuts on his opponent before others present intervened. The 42-year-old later defended himself before a military court by saying that Alexander "may have seriously injured me if I had not resorted to the means I chose." Nevertheless, the court sentenced him to two years of hard labor.

But three officers then stood up for Robinette. They called the punishment unreasonably harsh and found that Robinette had defended herself against someone "who was far superior in strength and size." President Lincoln agreed and signed the pardon of Biden's great-great-grandfather on September 1, 1864.

Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States from 1861 to 1865 and remains extremely popular today. Scientists recently published an analysis of the performance of all 45 US presidents to date in the “Presidential Greatness Project Expert Survey”. Lincoln takes first place. His admirer Biden comes in 14th place.