Arminius's Reviews > Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
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Jun 09, 2015

it was amazing
bookshelves: presidents
Read in March, 2009

Team of Rivals

Team of Rivals refers to Abraham Lincoln’s choice of prior adversaries as his presidential cabinet. The first was the most famous Republican candidate for the 1860 presidential race. This was William Seward, the Governor of New York. Seward was a very bright, good story teller and ardently opposed to slavery. He was, in all likelihood, too liberal to get the Republican nomination. The Republican Party was made up of former Whig party, Know-Nothing party and anti-slavery democrats. The know nothings were against immigration. This hurt Seward because he was very pro-immigration.

The second rival is former Ohio Senator and Governor Salmon P. Chase. He made a lot of enemies in Ohio with a shady political deal to obtain a Senate seat. The third was Edward Bates. Bates was a Missouri Judge. One of the reasons that Lincoln defeated these three is because he was a relatively unknown former congressman and lawyer. Lincoln was however a very hard working, great debater, great speech giver and writer as well as a magnificent story teller. He also had a hard dedicated team which worked tirelessly to ensure Lincoln’s victory. They were so dedicated because Lincoln was such a nice fellow as well as great story teller.

When Lincoln won the nomination the South began secession talks and quickly seceded. One of Lincoln’s most important decisions was to pick all of his former rivals for top cabinet positions. Seward was picked for Secretary of State, Chase for Treasury and Bates for Attorney General. He did this with full knowledge that each rival considered himself more qualified than him to be president. He also knew that there would be internal strife amongst such big personalities.

When confederate forces struck Fort Sumter the Civil War began. This is where Lincoln made his only major mistake. The mistake was picking George McClellan to head the Union Army and his delay in replacing him. McClellan’s delays in engaging confederate forces are well documented and may very well have prevented a quick Union victory.

Lincoln’s wife Mary is discussed a lot in this book as is Treasury Secretary Chase’s daughter Kate. Mary was a very driven woman who loved the big fancy balls that she would host. She enjoyed flirting with men and Abe never minded. However after the death of their son she fell into deep depression. When she finally pulled herself out she devoted herself to secretly caring for wounded soldiers in the hospital. Kate Chase was known as the prettiest lady in Washington and she hosted elaborate balls on behalf of her father. She married the wealthy William Sprague, owner of A.& W. Sprague Manufacturing Company. Although they seemed like the all American couple she had a miserable married life which ended in divorce.

Kate’s father however actively pursued the Republican nomination for the presidency in 1864 while being the acting Treasury Secretary. He did a stellar job financing the war and Lincoln appreciated that. So after confronting him without malice he offered him the recent Supreme Court justice position vacated by Judge Roger Taney.

Lincoln was often criticized by the anti-slavery radicals as being overly cautious but history tells us that Lincoln seemed to understand the mood of the country and make decisions based on that. For example, the Emancipation Proclamation was not enacted until he felt that it would be acceptable in the Border States.

When the war ended everything looked rosy in a way. We had a great President who planned a lenient approach to Southern reintegration while guaranteeing colored equality.

That was stymied when John Wilkes Booth pulled the trigger in Ford’s Theater and killed the 16th President.

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02/10/2009 page 41
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Suzanne Cannot wait for your opinion of this. I love her style of writing.


Suzanne How are you doing with this?


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