By David J. Kent
Monday, February 27, 2023
The verdict is in! The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History announced that Jonathan W. White and Jon Meacham are joint recipients of the 2023 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize. They won for their books And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle (Meacham) and A House Built by Slaves: African American Visitors to the Lincoln White House (White). Congratulations!
Both authors are well known to Lincoln Group of DC. Jon Meacham highlighted our joint Lincoln birthday banquet with the DC Civil War Roundtable just over three weeks ago. He is currently a professor at Vanderbilt University and won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for his previous treatment of President Andrew Jackson in American Lion. And There Was Light also won the Lincoln Forum's Richard Nelson Current Award of Achievement and the ALI book award.
Jon White is a long-time member of the Lincoln Group of DC who has been a mainstay in Lincoln scholarship for many years. He is a professor of American studies at Christopher Newport University. A prolific author, his Emancipation, the Union Army, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln was a finalist for the 2015 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize and won the Abraham Lincoln Institute's 2015 book award. He has also won the 2019 Outstanding Faculty Award, the highest honor bestowed upon college faculty by the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The books by White and Meacham were selected out of 84 books considered for the Lincoln Prize. The three other finalists included Benjamin Franklin Butler: A Noisy, Fearless Life by Elizabeth D. Leonard; Ways and Means: Lincoln and His Cabinet and the Financing of the Civil War by Roger Lowenstein; and "I Can't Wait to Call You My Wife": African American Letters of Love and Family in the Civil War Era by Rita Roberts. [Note that Roger Lowenstein will be the Lincoln Group of DC speaker at our April 2023 dinner meeting at Maggiano's. Our Events page soon will provide more details on that event.]
In his remarks quoted on the press release, Gettysburg College Trustee Larry D. Walker said:
“We are pleased to be able to honor two outstanding books. Jonathan White’s work provides us with a deeper and important understanding of the view of Lincoln shared by African Americans in the Civil War era. Jon Meacham’s work is a major contribution to the long line of Lincoln biographies that will be read and re-read for decades.”
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.
Congratulations to Jonathan W. White and Jon Meacham!