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Ronald C. White

Ronald C. "Ron" White (born May 22, 1939) is an American historian, author, and lecturer.[1] He has written bestselling and award-winning biographies and books on Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.[2]

Ronald C. White
Ronald c white 9021915.jpg
Born (1939-05-22)May 22, 1939
Minneapolis, MN
Occupation Historian
Language English
Nationality American
Alma mater U.C.L.A. and Princeton University
Genre Historical
Notable works
  • The Eloquent President
  • Lincoln's Greatest Speech
  • A. Lincoln
  • American Ulysses
Spouse Cynthia


Life and vocationEdit

Born on May 22, 1939, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, he is the son of Ronald C. and Evelyn Pearson White. He was educated at Lincoln Elementary School, Salinas, California; R. D. White Elementary School, Woodrow Wilson Junior High School, graduating from Glendale High School in Glendale, California, in 1957.

With an interest in both Speech and Journalism, he enrolled in Northwestern University in 1957. He transferred to U.C.L.A. in 1958 where he majored in American History. He wrote a senior honors thesis under professor Donald B. Meyer on the role of religion in American psychology and sociology. He graduated with a B. A. with honors in 1961.

He entered Princeton Theological Seminary in 1961. He focused his studies on Reformation and Modern European Church History, writing a senior thesis on "Political Duty Under Luther and Calvin," under professors James Hastings Nichols and Edward Dowey. He graduated with an M. Div. degree in 1964, winning the Seminary Prize in History.

From 1964 through 1968, while serving as a Minister of the First Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs, he was invited to teach taught in the History Department at Colorado College. In 1966–67 he served as a World Council of Churches Scholar in England, studying English Church History at Lincoln Theological College, a stone’s throw from the Lincoln Cathedral. Returning to Colorado Springs, he became the founding Director of the Martin Luther King Education Fund, created in April 1868 in response to the assassination of Dr. King.

Accepted into the Ph.D. program at Princeton University in 1968, he studied both in the Religion Department with professors John F. Wilson and Horton Davies, and in the History Department with James M. McPherson and Arthur S. Link. Under their mentorship, he wrote a Ph.D. Dissertation, "The Social Gospel and the Negro in the Progressive Era, 1890–1920." He received a Ph.D. from Princeton in 1972.

He taught at Rider College from 1972–1974 and at Whitworth College from 1974–1981. In 1975 he co-authored with C. Howard Hopkins The Social Gospel: Religion and Reform in Changing America.[3] This book, still in print, pushed the boundaries chronologically and topically of the traditional interpretation of the Social Gospel to include African-Americans, Jews, women, and the South.

White served as Director of Continuing Education and taught Church History at Princeton Theological Seminary from 1981–1988. In 1984 he offered the Walter Rauschenbusch Lectures at Colgate-Rochester Seminary. An expanded version of the lectures became in 1990 Liberty and Justice for All: Racial Reform and the Social Gospel.[4]

In 1988 White returned to California to become a "Reader" at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. In 1993–1994 The Huntington Library presented an exhibit: “THE LAST BEST HOPE OF EARTH: ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND THE PROMISE OF AMERICA. Teaching in the History department at UCLA, White offer a seminar on Lincoln and brought his students to the exhibit. This exhibit and seminar experience began a journey with Lincoln that continues to this day.[5]

The first fruit of this engagement came in 2002 when White authored Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural. A Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle bestseller, the New York Times selected it a Notable Book for 2002.[6] James M. McPherson declared, "Lincoln thought the Second Inaugural to be his greatest speech—even more profound than the Gettysburg Address. Ronald C. White's remarkable analysis of the Second Inaugural will convince readers that Lincoln was right." David Herbert Donald called the book "both learned and accessible."[7]

In 2005 White authored The Eloquent President: A Portrait of Lincoln Through His Words.[8] A Los Angeles Times bestseller and a selection of the History Book Club. The Wall Street Journal observed, "Lincoln's eloquence was of …a rare kind. Ronald C. White captures its qualities admirably . . . in this outstanding book."[9] The Washington Post judged it "splendid…The Eloquent President is an insightful, highly readable exploration of genius."[10]

White authored A. Lincoln: A Biography in 2009 in conjunction with the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth.[11] It was a New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times bestseller. USA Today stated, "If you read one book about Lincoln, make it A. Lincoln." The biography was named one of the best books of 2009 by the Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Christian Science Monitor, and Barnes & Noble. Harold Holzer wrote: "Each generation requires—and seems to inspire—its own masterly one-volume Lincoln biography, and scholar Ronald C. White has crowned the bicentennial year with an instant classic for the twenty-first century."[12] In 2010 A. Lincoln won a Christopher Award which salutes books that "affirm the highest values of the human spirit."[13]

On October 4, 2016, White published American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant in 2016, which became an instant New York Times bestseller.[14] General (Ret.) David H. Petraeus declared, "Certain to be recognized as the classic work on Grant, American Ulysses is a monumental examination of one of the most compelling figures in American history." Jon Meacham wrote, "In this thorough and engaging new book, Ronald C. White restores U. S. Grant to the pantheon of great Americans." Presidential historian Richard Norton Smith stated, "Employing a perspective as fresh as his newly tapped sources, White at last solves the Grant Enigma—reconciling in character and ability the hero of Appomattox with the (allegedly) failed President. It is the biography that Grant deserves, and that only a scholar of the first rank can deliver."

Personal lifeEdit

Ron White is married to Cynthia Conger White and lives in La Canada, California. He has two adult children, Melissa Clawson and Bradley White, by a previous marriage to Sherrie D. White. Ron and Cynthia enjoy three grandchildren—Mikaela, Justin, and Emily-all who live in Spokane, Washington. He enjoys tennis, music, theater, and travel.[15]

Reviewer Phillip C. Stone says:

White's A. Lincoln: A Biography is readable, thorough, and thoughtful....In a particularly insightful way, White describes Lincoln's development into a mature man, a successful politician and superior lawyer. He handles Lincoln's religious development particularly well. An early freethinker, Lincoln never joined a church but became increasingly religious. Even as a young man he appeared to be uninterested in joining the fundamentalist Baptist group of his parents, but he was certainly influenced by the Calvinistic determinism of his parents' faith. Later, when he became acquainted with well-educated and intellectual pastors, his interest in metaphysical matters grew and matured. In the same evolutionary way that his political and personal strengths developed, his religious views became stronger, partly because of his intellectual development and partly in response to the despair and anguish he experienced from the 1862 death of his son Willie and the hundreds of thousands of war casualties.[16]


  • American Ulysses: A Life Of Ulysses S. Grant (October 4, 2016), published by Penguin Random House
  • A. Lincoln: A Biography (2006), Published By Penguin Random House
  • The Eloquent President: A Portrait of Lincoln Through His Words (2006), Published By Penguin Random House
  • Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural (2006), Published By Simon & Schuster
  • Liberty and Justice for All: Racial Reform and the Social Gospel (1990), Published By Temple University Press
  • The Social Gospel: Religion and Reform in Changing America (1976), Published By Harpercollins


External linksEdit