Following his death in 1865, “none felt his absence more than the members of his own cabinet, the remarkable group of rivals whom Lincoln had brought into his official family. They had fiercely opposed one another and often contested their chief on important questions, but as [William] Seward later remarked, a Cabinet which should agree at once on every such question would be no better or safer than one counselor.” In my opinion, this was Lincoln’s greatest achievement—to skillfully harness the talents of his “team of rivals” while leading this Nation during its darkest hours and standing firm in “His conviction that we are one nation, indivisible, conceived in Liberty; and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
“Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition,” Lincoln declared at twenty-three to the people of Sangamon County during his first bid for public office in the Illinois state legislature. “Whether it be true or not, I can say for one that I have no other [ambition] so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem. How far I shall succeed in gratifying this ambition, is yet to be developed.”
Quotes in this post are from the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.