After winning the presidency, Abraham Lincoln made the unprecedented decision to incorporate his

eminent Republican rivals into his cabinet – evidence of profound self-confidence and humility. One

became secretary of state, one secretary of the treasury and one the attorney general. The remaining top

posts he offered to three former Democrats.


These men were better known, better educated and more experienced in public life than Lincoln and their

presence in the cabinet might have seemed to threaten to eclipse Lincoln, the obscure prairie lawyer from



It soon became clear, however, that Abraham Lincoln would emerge as the captain of this most unusual

cabinet – a team of rivals.


These powerful competitors who had originally disdained Lincoln, became his colleagues who helped him

steer the country though its darkest days.


Lincoln’s political genius was revealed through his extraordinary personal qualities that enabled him to

form friendships with men who had previously opposed him; to repair injured feelings that might have

escalated into permanent hostility; to assume responsibility for the failure of subordinates; to share credit

with ease; and to learn from mistakes.


Lincoln proved that moral qualities such as humility, kindness, sensitivity, compassion, honesty and

empathy could be impressive leadership resources.


Source: Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin