2014 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize Recognizes Guelzo, Johnson and Spielberg

GETTYSBURG, PA., Feb. 12, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The 2014 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, which includes an award of $50,000, will go to co-winners Allen C. Guelzo of Gettysburg College, for "Gettysburg: The Last Invasion," (Alfred A. Knopf) and Martin P. Johnson of Miami University Hamilton, for "Writing the Gettysburg Address" (University Press of Kansas). Steven Spielberg will also receive a Special Achievement Award for the movie "Lincoln," released in 2012, which won two Academy Awards, was nominated for twelve and grossed over $275 million worldwide.

The Prize is awarded by Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The winners were chosen from 114 nominations. Guelzo and Johnson will each receive $25,000 and a bronze replica of Augustus Saint-Gaudens's life-size bust, "Lincoln the Man" in a ceremony April 24 in New York City. Spielberg's Special Achievement Award will be the first ever in the 24-year history of the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize.

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. The Institute is devoted to history education, supporting history theme schools, teacher training, digital archives, curriculum development, exhibitions and publications, and the national History Teacher of the Year Award program.

In his book, Guelzo does something remarkable: he manages to say something new and important about the Battle of Gettysburg. In addition to being an invaluable contribution to understanding this critical battle, the book is brilliant narrative made even more compelling by the elegance of its language. The book's value as traditional military history cannot be overstated; Guelzo vividly recreates the battle, both the experiences of commanders and the common soldier. In addition to its contribution to traditional military history, Guelzo also focuses on war and society beyond the battlefield. He demonstrates that Union victory and Confederate defeat were about more than the military competence or incompetence of their armies and leaders; instead, Union victory was a product of the strength inherent in a free society.

Johnson's book is a strikingly original, subtly nuanced, and beautifully written examination of when and how the Gettysburg Address was written. It has been suggested that this important speech was written on the back of an envelope on the train to Gettysburg. Instead, Johnson proves that the speech was written as part of Lincoln's emotional and spiritual journey to the Gettysburg battlefield and cemetery, and the book's greatest strength may be its ability to bring the reader along on this journey. His argument that the Gettysburg Address did not spring fully formed from Lincoln's head but was the product, in part, of the actual process of writing in Washington and Gettysburg is quite original. Johnson says and does much to clarify how we got the greatest American political speech.

"Guelzo's and Johnson's are both powerful books, and both so beautifully written that everyone -- not just civil War buffs -- will be drawn in by the stories they tell. Meanwhile Mr. Spielberg's mesmerizing film 'Lincoln' has already taken over as the nation's 'memory' of the 16th President," Gilder Lehrman Institute President James G. Basker said.

"Gettysburg College is once again honored to join the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in awarding the Lincoln Prize to Martin Johnson and our own Allen Guelzo – and to recognize Steven Spielberg for his remarkable film," said Gettysburg College President Janet Morgan Riggs. "Collectively, their work brings new perspectives to the public's understanding of Abraham Lincoln, the Gettysburg Address, and the Battle of Gettysburg."

The three-member 2014 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize jury – University of Illinois at Springfield's Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies Michael Burlingame, 2010 Lincoln Prize-winner for "Abraham Lincoln: A Life"; Washington and Lee University's Lewis G. John Term Professor of Politics Lucas Morel, author of "Lincoln's Sacred Effort: Defining Religion's Role in American Self-Government"; and Assistant Professor of History at the University of Central Florida Barbara Gannon, 2012 Lincoln Prize Honorable Mention for "The Won Cause: Black and White Comradeship in the Grand Army of the Republic" – recommended six finalists to the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize Board which makes the final decision.

In addition to Gilder, Lehrman, Basker and Riggs, the Board includes Gettysburg College Trustees Emeritus James R. Thomas and H. Scott Higgins.

Past Lincoln Prize winners include: Ken Burns in 1991 for his documentary "The Civil War"; Doris Kearns Goodwin for "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" in 2006; Eric Foner for "The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery" in 2011; and James Oakes for "Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865" in 2013.

About Guelzo

Allen C. Guelzo is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era, Director of Civil War Era Studies, and a Professor of History at Gettysburg College. He received his Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and his M.Div. and B.S. from Philadelphia Biblical University. A two-time Lincoln Prize-winner previously for "Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President" in 2000 and "Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America" in 2005, Guelzo has also authored a number of op-eds that have appeared in outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.

About Johnson

Martin P. Johnson, Assistant Professor of History at Miami University Hamilton, received a Ph.D. in History from Brown University. He has published two books on nineteenth-century French history, but his main research interest for the past decade has focused on the American Civil War. Since 2006 Johnson has supervised a series of professional development workshops for teachers under the Teaching American History program through the U. S. Department of Education. Since 2009 he has been a Book Review Editor at H-CivWar, the premier venue for scholarly digital communication about the Civil War, and also serves on the Reviews Planning Board for H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online.

About Spielberg

Steven Spielberg, one of the entertainment industry's most successful and influential filmmakers, is also, collectively, the top-grossing director of all time, having helmed such blockbusters as "Jaws, " "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, " the "Indiana Jones" franchise, and "Jurassic Park. " In 2012, Spielberg directed Academy Award winner Daniel Day-Lewis in "Lincoln," based in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals," with a screenplay by Tony Kushner. The film garnered 12 Academy Award nominations and has earned over $275 million worldwide. The film won two Academy Awards, including Daniel Day-Lewis' third Oscar for Best Actor playing the iconic 16th President, as well as Best Production Design.

About the Finalists

Christopher Hager – "Word by Word: Emancipation and the Act of Writing" (Harvard University Press) is an original and compelling study, that asserts that more slaves were literate than is commonly thought, and that their fugitive letters, diaries, petitions and other writings provide valuable insights.

Margaret Humphreys – "Marrow of Tragedy: The Health Crisis of the American Civil War" (The Johns Hopkins University Press) is a well-researched and engaging book that examines the Civil War as a health disaster in which over one million Americans died.

Robert E. May – "Slavery, Race, and Conquest in the Tropics: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Future of Latin America" (Cambridge University Press) is a focused, well-researched, and clearly argued work that contributes to our understanding of the antebellum politics of the slavery expansion controversy.

John Stauffer and Benjamin Soskis – "The Battle Hymn of the Republic: A Biography of the Song That Marches On" (Oxford University Press) shows how the song evolved from a Northern Civil War anthem into a rallying tune for many later, very different causes, and is an original work that speaks to the legacy of the Civil War in a broader sense.

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 50 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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