2023 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize Recipients Announced

Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s life-sized bust Lincoln the ManThe Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History announced today that Jon Meacham, author of And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle (Random House), and Jonathan W. White, author of A House Built by Slaves: African American Visitors to the Lincoln White House (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers), are joint recipients of the 2023 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize.

The two laureates will be recognized during an award ceremony to be held at the Harvard Club in New York City on April 11. The award they will share includes a $50,000 prize and bronze replicas of Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s life-sized bust, Lincoln the Man.

Jon Meacham, co-chair of the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy, Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University, and Carolyn T. and Robert M. Rogers Chair in American Presidency at Vanderbilt, is a renowned presidential historian. A biographer and contributing editor at Time, he lectures widely in the United States on history, politics, and religious faith, and is the Canon Historian of Washington National Cathedral. He is the author of numerous New York Times bestselling books, and the recipient of many awards, including the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for biography for American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. Meacham received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University in 2005. He holds additional honorary doctorates from Williams College, Middlebury College, Wake Forest University, the University of Tennessee, Dickinson College, Sewanee, Loyola University New Orleans, Loyola University Maryland, Millsaps College, and several other institutions.

Jonathan W. White is Professor of American Studies at Christopher Newport University, where he has taught since 2009. He is the author or editor of thirteen books, including Emancipation, the Union Army, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln (2014), which was a finalist for the 2015 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, a “best book” in the Civil War Monitor, and the winner of the Abraham Lincoln Institute’s 2015 book prize. He has published more than one hundred articles, essays, and reviews. He serves as vice chair of the Lincoln Forum and on the boards of the Abraham Lincoln Association and the Abraham Lincoln Institute, as well as on the Ford’s Theatre Advisory Council and the Gilder Lehrman Institute’s Scholarly Advisory Board. In 2019 he won the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia’s Outstanding Faculty Award—the highest honor bestowed upon college faculty by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The 2023 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize jury wrote that And There Was Light is “a timely and original biography of Lincoln, well informed by modern scholarship and full of educational value for the broad reading public.” They concluded, “Meacham’s superbly readable biography . . . is one of the very finest that we have, and will stand the test of time.”

The jury wrote that in A House Built by Slaves, “White captures the symbolic importance of social equality as an issue to be addressed during—and after—the restoration of the Union and eradication of slavery.”

Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., called A House Built by Slaves “an attempt to size Lincoln up through the eyes of Black Americans who visited the ‘people’s house’ that their people had built and in whose names they were determined to win the fight for freedom and citizenship.”

Read the full press release here.