Team of Rivals, Doris Goodwin


An excellent multiple biography on A. Lincoln’s cabinet that helped shaped what could be the most significant presidency in American history. The book (over 800 pages) breaks down how Lincoln, along with W. Seward, S. Chase, E. Bates shaped and formed the US during a critical point in our nation’s history. The lives of these four men give us a picture of the path taken by ambitious young men and their upward climb. After winning the presidency, coming from nowhere with a scarce national reputation, Lincoln made the unprecendented decision to incorporate his eminent rivals into his political family (i.e. the cabinet). Why? He knew the country needed the strongest men of the party to hold the people together. His political genius and personal qualities that enabled him to form friendships with men who has previously opposed him; to repair injured feelings; assume responsibilities for failures of subordinates; share credit with ease; and to learn from mistakes. He possessed an acute understanding of the sources of power inherent in the presidency, an ability to protect his prerogatives, and a masterful sense of timing. He had such decency and morality – kindness, sensitivity, compassion, honesty, and empathy. Lincoln had a lifelong dream and desire to prove himself worthy, to be held in great regard, to win the veneration and respect of his fellow citizens. He was a fabulous storyteller providing maxims or proverbs that usefully connected to the lives of his listeners. Lincoln and General Grants friendship and trust among each other, the trust among the officers with Lincoln. Sherman remarking that Lincoln possessed more of the elements of greatness, combined with goodness, than any other person he’d ever met. Lincoln knew that a cabinet which agreed at once on everything would be no better than one counsellor. Be calling his cabinet, this afforded them an opportunity to exercise their talents to the fullest and share in the labor and glory in order to reunite and transform the country and secure it. Lincoln was the utmost humanitarian, which established his greatness firmly, in my belief, to be one of, if not, the greatest presidents in our nation’s history.