Lincoln University of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was chartered in April 1854 as Ashmun Institute. As Horace Mann Bond, '23, the eighth president of Lincoln University, so eloquently cites in the opening chapter of his book, Education for Freedom, this was "the first institution found anywhere in the world to provide a higher education in the arts and sciences for male youth of African descent." The story of Lincoln University goes back to the early years of the 19th century and to the ancestors of its founder, John Miller Dickey, and his wife, Sarah Emlen Cresson. The Institute was re-named Lincoln University in 1866 after President Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln is surrounded by the rolling farmlands and wooded hilltops of southern Chester County, Pennsylvania. Its campus is conveniently located on Baltimore Pike, about one mile off US Route 1 – 45 miles southwest of Philadelphia, 15 miles northwest of Newark, Delaware, 25 miles west of Wilmington, Delaware, and 55 miles north of Baltimore, Maryland.
Since its inception, Lincoln has attracted an interracial and international enrollment from the surrounding community, region, and around the world. The University admitted women students in 1952, and formally associated with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1972 as a state-related, coeducational university. Lincoln currently enrolls approximately 2,000 students.
Located in southern Chester County, Lincoln is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and offers academic programs in undergraduate study in the arts, sciences as well as graduate programs in human services, reading, education, mathematics, and administration. The University is proud of its faculty for the high quality of their teaching, research, and service, and of its alumni, among the most notable of whom are: Langston Hughes, '29, world-acclaimed poet; Thurgood Marshall, '30, first African-American Justice of the US Supreme Court; Hildrus A. Poindexter, '24, internationally known authority on tropical diseases; Roscoe Lee Browne, '46, author and widely acclaimed actor of stage and screen; Jacqueline Allen, '74, judge for the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia; and Eric C. Webb, '91, author, poet and editor-in-chief of Souls of People.
Many of Lincoln's international graduates have gone on to become outstanding leaders in their countries, including Nnamdi Azikiwe, '30, Nigeria's first president; Kwame Nkrumah, '39, first president of Ghana; Rev. James Robinson, '35, founder of Crossroads Africa, which served as the model for the Peace Corps; and Sibusio Nkomo, Ph.D., '81, chairperson, National Policy Institute of South Africa.
During the first one hundred years of its existence, Lincoln graduated approximately 20 percent of the Black physicians and more than 10 percent of the Black attorneys in the United States. Its alumni have headed over 35 colleges and universities and scores of prominent churches. At least 10 of its alumni have served as United States ambassadors or mission chiefs. Many are federal, state and municipal judges, and several have served as mayors or city managers.