On April 27th at the Nixon Library, CNN Anchor and Senior Political Analyst John Avlon presented a new angle on the most-written about president which he explores in his latest book, Lincoln and the Fight for Peace. Moderating the conversation was Margaret Hoover, political commentator and strategist, great-granddaughter of President Herbert Hoover and John Avlon’s wife.

Avlon revealed it was a quote from the American General who oversaw the post-World War II occupation of Germany, Lucius Clay, that inspired his book. When asked how he carried out a successful post-war occupation, General Clay responded, “I tried to think about what Abraham Lincoln would have done for the South if he had lived.” Avlon sets out to examine what was Lincoln’s prescription for peace and what lessons for leadership can we learn from his plan.

The first half of Avlon’s book gives an eyewitness account of the last six weeks of Lincoln’s presidency, from his second inaugural address to his assassination, while the second half explores what Avlon calls “the afterlife of the idea”—Lincoln’s vision for peace and how it has been both applied and misapplied directly with him in mind. 

Avlon makes the point that character is the most important quality in a president. Lincoln’s model of leadership, anchored in forgiveness and magnanimity, was driven by his personal attributes including empathy, honor, humor and humility. Lincoln’s plan for reconciliation is well-known and best codified in the last paragraph of his second inaugural address, which begins “With malice toward none with charity for all…” It is a vision that continues to inspire peacemakers and guide plans for reconciliation.

Signed copies of Lincoln and the Fight for Peace are available for purchase at the Nixon Library Gift Shop and online. 

View the presentation here: