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Team of Rivals
Cover of Team of Rivals
Team of Rivals
The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

Winner of the Lincoln Prize

Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Lincoln's political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president.

On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago. When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry.

Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war. That Lincoln succeeded, Goodwin demonstrates, was the result of a character that had been forged by experiences that raised him above his more privileged and accomplished rivals. He won because he possessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.

It was this capacity that enabled Lincoln as president to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to the task of preserving the Union and winning the war.

We view the long, horrifying struggle from the vantage of the White House as Lincoln copes with incompetent generals, hostile congressmen, and his raucous cabinet. He overcomes these obstacles by winning the respect of his former competitors, and in the case of Seward, finds a loyal and crucial friend to see him through.

This brilliant multiple biography is centered on Lincoln's mastery of men and how it shaped the most significant presidency in the nation's history.

Winner of the Lincoln Prize

Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Lincoln's political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president.

On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago. When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry.

Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war. That Lincoln succeeded, Goodwin demonstrates, was the result of a character that had been forged by experiences that raised him above his more privileged and accomplished rivals. He won because he possessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.

It was this capacity that enabled Lincoln as president to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to the task of preserving the Union and winning the war.

We view the long, horrifying struggle from the vantage of the White House as Lincoln copes with incompetent generals, hostile congressmen, and his raucous cabinet. He overcomes these obstacles by winning the respect of his former competitors, and in the case of Seward, finds a loyal and crucial friend to see him through.

This brilliant multiple biography is centered on Lincoln's mastery of men and how it shaped the most significant presidency in the nation's history.

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  • From the book

    Chapter 1: Four Men Waiting

    On May 18, 1860, the day when the Republican Party would nominate its candidate for president, Abraham Lincoln was up early. As he climbed the stairs to his plainly furnished law office on the west side of the public square in Springfield, Illinois, breakfast was being served at the 130-room Chenery House on Fourth Street. Fresh butter, flour, lard, and eggs were being put out for sale at the City Grocery Store on North Sixth Street. And in the morning newspaper, the proprietors at Smith, Wickersham & Company had announced the arrival of a large spring stock of silks, calicos, ginghams, and linens, along with a new supply of the latest styles of hosiery and gloves.

    The Republicans had chosen to meet in Chicago. A new convention hall called the "Wigwam" had been constructed for the occasion. The first ballot was not due to be called until 10 a.m. and Lincoln, although patient by nature, was visibly "nervous, fidgety, and intensely excited." With an outside chance to secure the Republican nomination for the highest office of the land, he was unable to focus on his work. Even under ordinary circumstances many would have found concentration difficult in the untidy office Lincoln shared with his younger partner, William Herndon. Two worktables, piled high with papers and correspondence, formed a T in the center of the room. Additional documents and letters spilled out from the drawers and pigeonholes of an outmoded secretary in the corner. When he needed a particular piece of correspondence, Lincoln had to rifle through disorderly stacks of paper, rummaging, as a last resort, in the lining of his old plug hat, where he often put stray letters or notes.

    Restlessly descending to the street, he passed the state capitol building, set back from the road, and the open lot where he played handball with his friends, and climbed a short set of stairs to the office of the Illinois State Journal, the local Republican newspaper. The editorial room on the second floor, with a central large wood-burning stove, was a gathering place for the exchange of news and gossip.

    He wandered over to the telegraph office on the north side of the square to see if any new dispatches had come in. There were few outward signs that this was a day of special moment and expectation in the history of Springfield, scant record of any celebration or festivity planned should Lincoln, long their fellow townsman, actually secure the nomination. That he had garnered the support of the Illinois delegation at the state convention at Decatur earlier that month was widely understood to be a "complimentary" gesture. Yet if there were no firm plans to celebrate his dark horse bid, Lincoln knew well the ardor of his staunch circle of friends already at work on his behalf on the floor of the Wigwam.

    The hands of the town clock on the steeple of the Baptist church on Adams Street must have seemed not to move. When Lincoln learned that his longtime friend James Conkling had returned unexpectedly from the convention the previous evening, he walked over to Conkling's office above Chatterton's jewelry store. Told that his friend was expected within the hour, he returned to his own quarters, intending to come back as soon as Conkling arrived.

    Lincoln's shock of black hair, brown furrowed face, and deep-set eyes made him look older than his fifty-one years. He was a familiar figure to almost everyone in Springfield, as was his singular way of walking, which gave the impression that his long, gaunt frame needed oiling. He plodded forward in an awkward manner, hands hanging at his sides or folded behind his back. His step had no spring, his partner...

About the Author-
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin's interest in leadership began more than half a century ago as a professor at Harvard. Her experiences working for Lyndon B. Johnson in the White House and later assisting him on his memoirs led to her bestselling Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream. She followed up with the Pulitzer Prize–winning No Ordinary Time: Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II. She earned the Lincoln Prize for the runaway bestseller Team of Rivals, the basis for Steven Spielberg's Academy Award–winning film Lincoln, and the Carnegie Medal for The Bully Pulpit, the New York Times bestselling chronicle of the friendship between Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. She lives in Concord, Massachusetts. Visit her at DorisKearnsGoodwin.com or @DorisKGoodwin.
Table of Contents-
  • Contents

    Maps and Diagrams

    Introduction

    Part I THE RIVALS

    1 Four Men Waiting

    2 The "Longing to Rise"

    3 The Lure of Politics

    4 "Plunder & Conquest"

    5 The Turbulent Fifties

    6 The Gathering Storm

    7 Countdown to the Nomination

    8 Showdown in Chicago

    9 "A Man Knows His Own Name"

    10 "An Intensified Crossword Puzzle"

    11 "I Am Now Public Property"

    Part II MASTER AMONG MEN

    12 "Mystic Chords of Memory": Spring 1861

    13 "The Ball Has Opened": Summer 1861

    14 "I Do Not Intend to Be Sacrificed": Fall 1861

    15 "My Boy Is Gone": Winter 1862

    16 "He Was Simply Out-Generaled": Spring 1862

    17 "We Are in the Depths": Summer 1862

    18 "My Word Is Out": Fall 1862

    19 "Fire in the Rear": Winter-Spring 1863

    20 "The Tycoon Is in Fine Whack": Summer 1863

    21 "I Feel Trouble in the Air": Summer-Fall 1863

    22 "Still in Wild Water": Fall 1863

    23 "There's a Man in It!": Winter-Spring 1864

    24 "Atlanta Is Ours": Summer-Fall 1864

    25 "A Sacred Effort": Winter 1864-1865

    26 The Final Weeks: Spring 1865

    Epilogue

    Acknowledgments

    Notes

    Illustration Credits

    Index

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 25, 2013
    This production of Goodwin’s acclaimed biography enters the marketplace as a tie-in for Steven Spielberg’s latest Hollywood epic, Lincoln. While Goodwin’s book serves as the basis for the film, listeners of the adaptation may be puzzled that the narrative in this abridged edition does not include President Abraham Lincoln’s efforts to gain passage of the 13th Amendment—efforts that provides the centerpiece for a great deal of the movie’s storyline. However, the abridgment flows quite smoothly in its own right. Narrator Richard Thomas evokes an earnestness and dignity in keeping with the spirit of the material. He effectively conveys the personal bonds between Lincoln and his unlikely circle of advisors. In the case of Secretary of State William Seward, the emotional depths of the character’s devotion become especially clear via Thomas’s performance. And the narrator—whose tone remains sentimental without descending into maudlin territory—nicely tackles the sections devoted to Lincoln’s family life, most notably the attachment he maintained with youngest son Tad. A Simon & Schuster paperback.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 2, 2006
    While Goodwin's introduction is a helpful summary and explanation for why another book about Lincoln, her reading abilities are limited: Her tone is flat and dry, and her articulation is overly precise. But the introduction isn't long and we soon arrive at Richard Thomas's lovely and lively reading of an excellent book. The abridgment (from 944 pages) makes it easy to follow the narrative and the underlying theme. Pauses are often used to imply ellipses, and one is never lost. But the audio version might have been longer, for there is often a wish to know a little more about some event or personality or relationship. Goodwin's writing is always sharp and clear, and she uses quotes to great effect. The book's originality lies in the focus on relationships among the men Lincoln chose for his cabinet and highest offices: three were his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination in 1860, and each considered himself the only worthy candidate. One is left with a concrete picture of Lincoln's political genius—derived from a character without malice or jealousy—which shaped the history of our nation. One is also left with the painful sense of how our history might have differed had Lincoln lived to guide the Reconstruction. Simultaneous release with the Simon & Schuster hardcover (Reviews, Sept. 26).

  • Library Journal

    January 1, 2015

    Goodwin's biography of Lincoln's cabinet is a discerning diagnosis of the politics that led Lincoln to choose and manage a "team of rivals" through his self-confidence, pragmatism, broad vision, and unyielding convictions--and to use his diverse, competing cabinet to enforce policy. (LJ 10/15/05)

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
Doris Kearns Goodwin
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