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10 Best Quotes From "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" by Doris Kearns Goodwin


Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Lincoln's political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president.


  1. “In order to ‘win a man to your cause,’ Lincoln explained, you must first reach his heart, ‘the great high road to his reason.’”

  2. “Ambition is a passion, at once strong and insidious, and is very apt to cheat a man out of his happiness and his true respectability of character.”

  3. “Washington was a typical American. Napoleon was a typical Frenchman, but Lincoln was a humanitarian as broad as the world. He was bigger than his country - bigger than all the Presidents together.”

  4. “With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.”

  5. “An adult friend of Lincoln's: "Life was to him a school.”

  6. “A real democracy would be a meritocracy where those born in the lower ranks could rise as far as their natural talents and discipline might take them.”

  7. “’Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition,’ he wrote. ‘I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem.’”

  8. “Moreover, Lincoln possessed an uncanny understanding of his shifting moods, a profound self-awareness that enabled him to find constructive ways to alleviate sadness and stress. Indeed, when he is compared with his colleagues, it is clear that he possessed the most even-tempered disposition of them all.”

  9. “And Lincoln, as would be evidenced throughout his presidency, was a master of timing.”

  10. “Lincoln was as calm and unruffled as the summer sea in moments of the gravest peril;”