AMHERST, Mass. - Leonard L. Richards, professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, has won second place in the 11th-annual Lincoln Prize awards competition from Gettysburg College for his book, "The Slave Power: The Free North and Southern Domination, 1780-1860." The award includes a $15,000 prize.
The Lincoln Prizes are announced traditionally on Feb. 12, Abraham Lincoln''s birthday, and will be presented to the winners at an April 10 banquet at the Union League Club of New York.
Richards''s book, published by Louisiana State University Press, presents and analyzes the concept of slavery as a major and determining force in pre-Civil War national politics, including its impact on Southern domination of the electoral system, the Democratic party, and the Supreme Court. The jury that chose the book noted that this "detailed and intelligent" study "fills a crucial void in our understanding of the political crisis leading up to the Civil War."
Richards, a 19th-century historian, said, "It is an honor to have received the second prize, especially for a book that doesn''t deal with the war itself and devotes only five pages to Abraham Lincoln. I''m both surprised and pleased."
The Lincoln Prize was founded and endowed by Richard Gilder and Lewis Lehrman, businessmen with a long-standing interest in Lincoln and the Civil War, along with Gabor Boritt, professor of history affiliated with the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. Juries of three historians each recommended this year''s prize winners from among 137 books selected for consideration. Final selections were made by the Board of Trustees of the Lincoln and Soldiers Institute of Gettysburg College, which administers the prize.
"Slavery inspired Lincoln''s rise, and the war tested his resolve and ultimately enshrined his memory," Gilder and Lehrman said. "So it is altogether fitting and proper that scholarly works devoted to these crucial 19th-century issues should win this year''s Lincoln prizes."
Besides Richards''s book and the first-place winner, Temple University''s Russell F. Weigley''s, "A Great Civil War: A Military and Political History, 1861-1865," two high-technology projects that bring history to life electronically also received the Lincoln Prize. A total of $100,000 in prize money was awarded.