Martin Johnson wins 2014 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize


Martin Johnson, assistant professor of history, is co-winner of the 2014 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, which includes an award of $50,000.

Miami University historian Martin Johnson is co-winner with Allen Guelzo of Gettysburg College of the 2014 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, which includes an award of $50,000. Johnson won for his book Writing the Gettysburg Address (2013, University Press of Kansas).

Guelzo won for Gettysburg: The Last Invasion (Alfred A. Knopf).

Steven Spielberg will also receive a Special Achievement Award for the movie "Lincoln," released in 2012, which won two Academy Awards.

The Lincoln Prize is awarded by Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The winners were chosen from 114 nominations.

Johnson and Guelzo will each receive $25,000 and a bronze replica of Augustus Saint-Gaudens' 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 Lincoln Prize jury describes Johnson's book as "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."

Johnson, assistant professor of history at Miami University Hamilton, received a doctorate in history from Brown University. He has published two books on 19th-century French history, but his main research interest for the past decade has focused on the American Civil War. Since 2006 he has supervised a series of professional development workshops for teachers under the Teaching American History program through the U.S. Department of Education.

gettysburg-coverHe is 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. Johnson joined Miami in 2003.

"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.

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.