Doris Kearns Goodwin: Historian gives audience reasons why Lincoln was great leader

Historians in the News

Politicians, present and future, only need to look to the past for lessons in leadership.

Standing on the stage in the Fred Kavli Theatre on Tuesday night, presidential historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin listed the qualities that made President Lincoln one of the country's great leaders.

"He had a kind of quiet self-confidence that allowed him to put these powerful people in his cadre," Goodwin told the audience gathered to hear her speak as part of the Distinguished Speakers Series.

Lincoln had a patience that let his Cabinet members, who represented a number of political parties, duke it out over the issues before coming to decisions.

"Once he made a decision, he had listened to all these varying perspectives," Goodwin said. "And his decision was invariably better."

A Pulitzer Prize winner, Goodwin knows Lincoln. For years she researched and wrote "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln."

She slipped easily into insights and anecdotes about the 16th president, quoting from memory letters, speeches and facts about Lincoln.

He had an extraordinary empathy and an ability to accept failure and learn from it, Goodwin said of Lincoln, adding the president also understood his own weaknesses and worked to compensate for them. He also knew how to relax and had a sense of humor.

Goodwin has written books on the Kennedys and Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. She is currently working on a book about President Theodore Roosevelt, whom she described as "a great character."...
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