I'm writing a short item on Thomas Cooper, the late 18th and early 19th century English and American public intellectual, judge, legal scholar, chemistry professor, Sedition Act defendant, and troublemaker. In a 1794 work of his, Some Information Respecting America, I noticed the phrase "The government [in America] is the government of the people, and for the people."
This obviously sounds much like Lincoln's "government of the people, by the people, for the people." It seems equally obvious that even if Lincoln's line was indirectly influenced by Cooper's, the influence will be hard to trace, and it may well be that Lincoln's sources came up with it independently of Cooper.
But I did want to ask whether any of you folks know of any earlier sources that join "of the people" and "for the people" (or "by the people"). I might want to credit Cooper with having the first known use of the phrase and I don't want to do that if there's contrary evidence. So if you can let me know of that, I'll be much obliged. (I checked some searchable databases on this, but the difficulty is that many of them exclude words like "of," "for," and "the" from their searches.) Many thanks!