Lincoln Forum Honors Biographer Goodwin

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin was honored by the Lincoln Forum for her 2005 biography of the 16th president. Goodwin spent a decade researching the Great Emancipator and his 1861 Cabinet for
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin was honored by the Lincoln Forum for her 2005 biography of the 16th president. Goodwin spent a decade researching the Great Emancipator and his 1861 Cabinet for "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln." (By Mary Altaffer -- Associated Press)

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Abraham Lincoln held a few surprises for his biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin.

"I had no idea the affection I would feel for him," historian and author Goodwin told the Lincoln Forum audience in November. "I came to know him. He was the one with the long sad face, but he sustained everyone else's spirits with his stories. I laughed out loud at so many of his stories."

Then she added, "I miss him now."

Goodwin spent a decade researching and writing his biography, "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln," published in 2005. The title refers to the Cabinet Lincoln formed in 1861 that included three of the men who ran against him for the presidency.

At the annual Lincoln seminar in Gettysburg, Goodwin received the 11th annual Richard Nelson Current Award of Achievement, the highest honor the forum offers.

Named for the 94-year-old dean of Lincoln scholars, the award is an impressionistic sculpture of Lincoln by artist John McClarey.

Current, who could not attend the ceremony, sent a letter saying: "Doris, you have no rival. You are the First Lady of Lincoln scholarship."

The very readable "Team of Rivals" is actually five biographies covering Lincoln, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of State William H. Seward, Attorney General Edward Bates and Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase.

"It was a most unusual Cabinet," Goodwin said. "They were all Lincoln rivals and came from other parts of the political spectrum."

As to why Lincoln had made those choices, she offered an answer that President Lyndon B. Johnson might have given. She wrote a biography on him in 1977, "Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream."

"As LBJ would say, more crudely, it is better to have everyone inside the tent pissing outside rather than outside pissing in."

The story of getting everyone in the tent has been told in the past but never with the research, detail and drama that Goodwin brings to the subject. She braids together the lives of the five men -- in some instances they knew one another early on -- and then follows them through Lincoln's White House years.


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