Historian and author Ron White has emerged as one of the nation’s leading scholars on Abraham Lincoln. White’s books include Lincoln’s Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural; The Eloquent President: A Portrait of Lincoln through His Words; and A. Lincoln, A Biography. He has received wide acclaim for his analysis of the context and content of Lincoln’s speeches and the ways in which they add new depth to our understanding of one of the nation’s most revered leaders.
White’s research and writing about Lincoln may seem an unusual professional turn for a man who, in the 1970s, served as a religion professor and chaplain at Whitworth. But in the 1990s, while teaching history at UCLA, White taught an elective course on Lincoln that turned into a personal passion. After reading Lincoln’s second inaugural address, he said in an interview for UCLA, “I was just blown away. I wanted to find a book on the address, but I couldn’t – so I wrote one.” Lincoln’s “strangely contemporary” words captivated the historian. White writes of the beauty and music of Lincoln’s language and details how Lincoln built an intellectual diary through notes written on slips of paper, some of which became the basis of future speeches.
White is the author or editor of seven books on American intellectual, religious and social history, and he has lectured at the White House and has been interviewed on PBS NewsHour. His current writing project is a biography of Ulysses S. Grant. In addition to teaching at Whitworth, he has taught at his alma maters, UCLA and Princeton Theological Seminary, and at San Francisco Theological Seminary. He is a fellow at the Huntington Library, a visiting professor of history at UCLA, and a senior fellow of The Trinity Forum. White has returned to Whitworth to present lectures on his research, and in 2009 he delivered the keynote address at the undergraduate commencement ceremony. Whitworth awarded him an honorary doctorate of humane letters that year.