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Friday, February 17, 2012

2012 GILDER LEHRMAN LINCOLN PRIZE

GETTYSBURG, Pa.- The 2012 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, which includes an award of $50,000, will go to co-winners William C. Harris (North Carolina State University) for Lincoln and the Border States: Preserving the Union, (Univ. of Kansas Press) and Elizabeth D. Leonard (Colby College) for Lincoln's Forgotten Ally: Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt of Kentucky (UNC Press).

The Prize is awarded by Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The winners were chosen from 116 nominations. Each will receive $25,000 and a bronze replica of Augustus Saint-Gaudens's life-size bust, Lincoln the Man in a ceremony April 11 in New York City.

The 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, one of the largest private archives of documents and artifacts in the nation.

Gilder Lehrman Collection

In his book, Harris covers Lincoln's often desperate efforts to keep the border states in the Union during the first months of the Civil War, with a focus on three states: Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri. Harris's study is thorough and well researched, and emphasizes Lincoln's careful moderation in dealing with an issue that he himself believed was crucial to the survival of the country. Harris clearly develops the various aspects of loyalty in the three states under examination, and illuminates Lincoln's emerging management style.

In her book, Leonard provides a thorough biography of a man who played a role in four presidential administrations, Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt of Kentucky. She portrays Holt as an interesting personality with strengths, weaknesses, quirks and integrity, and provides a new perspective on emancipation in Kentucky, as evidenced by Holt himself, a slave-owner, who later supported emancipation. The discussion of Holt's role as judge advocate general in the Lincoln administration provides information about Lincoln's wartime efforts regarding emancipation and civil liberties.

"Gettysburg College is proud to have the opportunity to partner with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in the presentation of the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize to these two excellent books that extend our understanding of Abraham Lincoln's leadership and the role played by of one of his most loyal supporters," said Gettysburg College President Janet Morgan Riggs.

About the Honorable Mention Recipient

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).

Gannon's book examines how black Union veterans crafted their own narrative of the Civil War, and how they reinforced this narrative with one another at their post-war Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) meetings. Gannon examines not only the activities of black GAR chapters, but also notes the rather startling fact that there were a number of racially integrated chapters. She demonstrates how shared suffering and sentimentalism counteracted racism, to a degree, among veterans in what was a profoundly racist era.

About the Other Finalists

William A. Dobak, Freedom by the Sword: The U.S. Colored Troops, 1862-1867 (U.S. Army Center for Military History) is a comprehensive history of black Union troops during the Civil War and Reconstruction. The book concentrates on the formation, training and operations of black troops, as well as the social, political and racial context.

Amanda Foreman, A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War (Random House) covers not only the perception of Britons about what was going on in the United States 1861-65, but also offers views of the war itself through the prism of a number of British subjects who were volunteers on one side or the other.

William G. Thomas, The Iron Way: Railroads, the Civil War, and the Making of Modern America (Yale) is an outgrowth of the "Railroads and the Making of Modern America" digital archive project. This book illuminates the critical impact of railroad construction, railroad management, and the boost railroads provided to regional development during and after the Civil War era.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, founded in 1994, is a not-for-profit organization that oversees the Gilder Lehrman Collection and conducts history education programs in all fifty states, serving more than 150,000 teachers, their students, and communities across the country every year.

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, which enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students, is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

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