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Team of Rivals

Doris Kearns Goodwin

The political genius of Abraham Lincoln from acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.



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The Bottom Line

When Lincoln won the presidency in 1860, he did the wildly improbable by today’s standards: He appointed three men who’d competed against him to his Cabinet. Relying on the talents of his former adversaries, Lincoln succeeded in preserving the Union and winning the Civil War.

I. Working with the Opposition

Abraham Lincoln rose swiftly from an obscure prairie lawyer to an Illinois congressman to one of the most famous presidents in American history. His success is often attributed to his White House strategy of appointing political opponents to cabinet positions — and then weighing their perspectives against his own to make thoughtfully considered, balanced decisions. In fact, after being elected president, Lincoln did something unheard of: He hired the men who’d tried to defeat him. William H. Seward, Salmon Chase, and Edward Bates disliked and even disdained Lincoln, but they joined his administration because they wanted to help advance the interests of the nation. Instead of seeing these men as enemies, Lincoln viewed them as gifted allies, the best and the brightest in the country. In this way Lincoln created one of the strongest, most consequential cabinets in U. S. history.

II. Country First

III. Tempering the Egos of Others

IV. Leveraging Strengths and Weaknesses

V. The Importance of Forgiveness

VI. Decisive When It Mattered

The Takeaway

COMPLETE INSIGHT

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