Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

(City: Simon & Schuster, 2005/2006), 880

Notes Started: 2021-07-25

  • recommended by Fr. John Conley at Peter’s rehearsal dinner; I listened to the abridged audiobook
  • Mansion at corner of state and 6th street in Columbus, Salmon Chase (who, unfortunately, turns out to be one of the larger antagonists of the story, alongside George McClellan)
  • Lincoln’s strategy at the convention was to be everyone’s second choice as someone who could win, and he therefore didn’t criticize his opponents so as to not ostracize their supporters
  • Lincoln practiced “firmness in silence” during the days between the election and inauguration as southern states seceded and Seward offered a conciliatory speech
  • to Lincoln the purpose of the war was more than slavery, it was to demonstrate a people’s ability to govern itself (paragraph on bottom of 356) (foreshadowing of the Gettysburg Address)
  • “All his life he had taken care not to send letters written in anger” (re letter to England which was a key victory to keep Britain and France out of the war, bottom of 363)
  • At the start of war they had to borrow at high rates to fund the war since Congress was not in session to authorize additional taxes/tarrifs (365), (cf. deficit spending to fund wars and impact on severity in 2021-03-14-The Bitcoin Standard)
  • The first loss at Bull Run just outside of DC: a “crucifixion day” for the Union
  • She discusses repeatedly how Lincoln was a great storyteller...this is a art/skill for me to develop
  • Lincoln refused to let a subordinate take the blame for his own decisions
  • Lincoln deftly handled a group of senators wanting to reconstruct his cabinet by inviting them to an open discussion which exposed Chase’s duplicity and saved Seward from an unjust attack, while retaining both men in their departments
  • “As he had done so many times before, Lincoln withstood the storm of defeat by replacing anguish over an unchangeable past with hope in an uncharted future.” (521)
  • Lincoln was eager to pardon soldiers in his review of courts martial
  • Lincoln had the same dream before a number of important war events (shared with Grant after Lee's surrender)
  • 5 of the 7 next presidents were Civil War veterans
  • Tolstoy’s story about a tribal chief in the remote North Caucasus knowing of and asking for a story about Lincoln, who was the greatest figure of the 19th century (747-748)

    • >He really was not a great general...he was not such a skilful statesmen...but his supremacy expresses itself altogether in his peculiar moral power and in the greatness of his character. Washington was a typical American. Napoleon was a typical Frenchman, but Lincoln was a humanitarian as broad as the world. He was bigger than his country—bigger than all the Presidents together.

    • I finished listening to this the same day I finished 2021-07-20-Witness to Hope: John Paul II was similarly great in morals and humanitarianism ^2b09ad