Goodwin’s classic Team of Rivals gives an account of Abraham Lincoln’s capability in creating a bipartisan government during a difficult period in the history of the United States. Lincoln created a cabinet that consisted of his political competitors and other intellectuals with diverse political views during the American Civil war (Goodwin 9). Lincoln tactfully incorporated his opponents such as Salman Chase into his cabinet, thus successfully suppressing their criticisms of the Republican party and the governance of US. By drawing the rivals into his circle of leadership, Lincoln showcased the thought that not every opponent needs to be attacked and that all men of noble ideas need to contribute their sound ideas for the sake of effective governance. Lincoln faced numerous challenges from his team of rivals but he brought peace in America by engaging his rivals in his government, and by giving them prominent roles in the cabinet.
The Team of Rivals depicts the idea of political unity and teamwork in the presidency of Lincoln, as well as the critics who challenged him in the 1860s Republican presidential elections. Lincoln’s period as the US president is remarkable as he applied a critical strategic plan in controlling his rivals, that is, by appointing them into his cabinet. Goodwin states that Lincoln’s opponents contested against him aiming to thwart his presidential bid. For instance, the then New York senator William Seward was the front-runner of the Republican party, while Ohio governor Salman Chase was representing the radical wing. At the same time, Missouri elder statesman Edward Bates was serving the conservatives in the presidential bid. Lincoln’s achievement in skilfully containing his rivals and bringing harmony in America is tremendous. As such, Lincoln’s presidential bid and reign faced numerous threats from his competitors who targeted to overthrow him, but he controlled them by appreciating their political insights.
Following the presidential win, Lincoln stated that US needed the strongest men from all the parties such as the Democratic party in the cabinet, as they would be essential in holding the nation together. Consequently, Lincoln selected his political rivals such as Chase, Salmon, Bate, and Seward as the greatest men to unite the country (Chase). Lincoln stated that he had no right to deny the citizens off the services and contributions of these outstanding men (Buck 43-67). Following their bid for political seats, these leaders had showcased their political abilities in running the government. For instance, Seward used his long alliance with the New York political boss Thurlow Weed to gain influence, while Chase gained recognition as an early proponent for the abolition of the slave trade. Besides, Bate’s opposition speech to president James Polk in 1847 at River and Habour Convention propelled him to the public domain. Lincoln’s belief was that every man of noble ideas should play a role in the government. Thus, Lincoln incorporated these great minds in governing the US effectively.
In creating a federal government with the opposition, Lincoln was determined to hold the government together and incorporate his rivals in his cabinet with the aim of stopping the civil war. As a result, Seward became the State Secretary, Chase assumed the role of the Secretary of the Treasury while Bates got the role of United states Attorney General. Unfortunately, US was thrown into a civil war as the Southern region seceded following Lincoln’s presidential election. Seward kept close ties with Lincoln during the civil war, but critics such as Chase began to plan on how to overthrow Lincoln. However, Lincoln still retained him in the cabinet in the belief that his contribution was significant. Lincoln also appointed Chase as the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court as he believed that Chase would be the best man to protect the rights of the freshly liberated black men and women in the US, and he was very determined and skilled on how the civil war could be financed and stopped. Furthermore, Lincoln recruited Chase’s friend Edwin Stanton as the Secretary of the civil war. Stanton, who had been opposing Lincoln, developed a sense of respect and support for him. Therefore, Lincoln had a strong will to manage all the diverse personalities in his cabinet with a goal that their wisdom and capabilities would be of great help to the state.
Lincoln effected a constitutional change and also endeavored to incorporate several generals into his administration such as George McClellan, George Meade, and Henry Halleck. Goethals expresses that Lincoln was successful in supporting Ulysses Grant to the position of the commander of the Union Armies in 1864 (77-102). Consequently, Lincoln was able to facilitate an amendment to the US constitution that abolished slavery and the slave trade and also stopped the civil war (Fletche). Lincoln persuaded diverse communities in America to unite in effecting the amendment thus appreciating their participation in the government. Therefore, Lincoln achieved loyalty from the generals as well as a reform in the constitution that helped him govern in peace.
Team of Rivals centers on Lincoln’s endeavor to reconcile conflicting personalities during the American civil war, whose contribution is portrayed as very crucial in the well being of a nation. After his election as the sixteenth president of the United States of America, Lincoln formed a cabinet that consisted of his most significant political competitors. The political rivals were drawn from his Republican party and other opposing parties such as the Democratic party. The team of rivals was a symbol of bipartisanship and a gesture of hope in the trying times during the American civil war. Lincoln recognized that the divisive ideological difference that was developing in the US had to be countered through cooperation with his competitors. Lincoln was determined to successfully integrate the rivaling personalities in his government to create a peaceful administration. Following his effective leadership style, Abraham Lincoln is hailed as a political genius in US history because of his role in encouraging the contribution of rival groups in the government
Buck, Stephen J. “Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Origins of the Republican Party in DuPage County, Illinois.” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (1998-) 112, no. 1 (2019): pp.43-67.
Chase, Salmon P. Inside Lincoln’s Cabinet; The Civil War Diaries Of Salmon P. Chase. Pickle Partners Publishing, 2015.
Fleche, Andre M. The Revolution of 1861: The American Civil War in the Age of Nationalist Conflict. Univ of North Carolina Press, 2012.
Goethals, George R. “Republicans for Racial Justice: Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant’, Realignment, Region, and Race.” (2018): pp.77-102.