NEW YORK, NY (April 11, 2012)—William C. Harris and Elizabeth D. Leonard were presented the 2012 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize tonight at a ceremony at the Union League Club in New York City. The $50,000 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, awarded by Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, was shared by Harris for Lincoln and the Border States: Preserving the Union (Kansas) and Leonard for Lincoln’s Forgotten Ally: Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt of Kentucky (UNC Press). Each winner also received a bronze replica of Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ life-size bust, Lincoln the Man.
“I attempted to fulfill the long-standing need for a comprehensive account of how Lincoln managed to hold the critical border slave states of Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, and Delaware in the Union and secure emancipation in two of these states,” said Harris. “To retain their support, Lincoln went the extra mile in accommodating the political, constitutional, and racial concerns of the border states. He correctly concluded in defending his coddling of his native state, ‘Kentucky gone, we can not hold Missouri, nor, as I think, Maryland. These all against us, and the job on our hands is too large for us.’”
“Holt’s life journey took him to many new and interesting places on the map. But it was also a journey of the mind and heart,” said Leonard. “In his eighty-seven years, Holt went from being a slaveholding son of the South to one of the era’s most determined supporters of the Union, and of emancipation and black Americans’ civil, political, and human rights. He went from being one of the most beloved and profoundly revered representatives of the antebellum ‘Southern Democracy,’ to one of the most fiercely reviled representatives of vengeful, postwar Radical Republicanism.”
Six finalists were considered for this year’s Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize. In addition to the two winners, Barbara A. Gannon, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Central Florida, was awarded an honorable mention for The Won Cause: Black and White Comradeship in the Grand Army of the Republic (UNC Press).
A prominent Lincoln and Civil War historian, Professor Emeritus of History at North Carolina State University William C. Harris is the author of ten books, including With Charity for All: Lincoln and the Restoration of the Union, Abraham Lincoln Institute Book Award winner Lincoln’s Last Month, and Henry Adams Prize winner Lincoln’s Rise to the Presidency. He is also the recipient of the Lincoln Diploma of Honor presented by Lincoln Memorial University.
A Civil War and American women’s history expert, Elizabeth D. Leonard is the John J. and Cornelia V. Gibson Professor of History at Colby College and the author of five books, including All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies and Lincoln’s Avengers: Justice, Revenge, and Reunion after the Civil War, both selections for the History Book Club. She is a member of the American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, and Southern Historical Association.
About the Lincoln Prize
The Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize was co-founded in 1990 by businessmen and philanthropists Richard Gilder and Lewis Lehrman, co-chairmen of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in New York and co-creators of the Gilder Lehrman Collection, which they donated to the Gilder Lehrman Institute in 2011.
Founded in 1994 by Richard Gilder and Lewis Lehrman, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a nonprofit organization devoted to the improvement of history education. The Institute has developed an array of programs for schools, teachers, and students that now operate in all fifty states, including a website that features the more than 60,000 unique historical documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection, www.gilderlehrman.org. Each year the Institute offers support and resources to tens of thousands of teachers, and through them enhances the education of more than a million students. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Organization of American Historians.
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.