Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. Biography


Birthday: October 15, 1917 (Libra)

Born In: Columbus, Ohio, United States

An American historian, educator and public official, Arthur M Schlesinger was one of the influential personalities, who explored the history of 20th-century American liberalism. A graduate from Harvard University, he started his career working in the Office of the Strategic Services. It was while working at the OSS that he pursued a literary career side by side and came out with the work, ‘The Age of Jackson’, for which he received a Pulitzer Prize. Politically active, he started off by working as a speechwriter for Adlai Stevenson and soon became an ardent supporter of the Kennedy administration. During the John F Kennedy’s regime, he held prestigious position as a special assistant to the President. Later on, he wrote a book which gave a detailed account of the Kennedy Administration and his service as an adviser. Titled ‘A Thousand Days’, the book earned him a second Pulitzer Prize. He also continued to serve as an academician - working as the Albert Schweitzer Professor of the Humanities at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York until 1994.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Arthur Meier Schlesinger Jr., Arthur Bancroft Schlesinger

Died At Age: 89


Spouse/Ex-: Alexandra Emmet (m. 1971–2007), Marian Cannon (m. 1940–1970)

father: Arthur M. Schlesinger

mother: Elizabeth Harriet

children: Peter Allan, Robert Schlesinger, tephen Schlesinger

Historians Critics & Connoisseurs

Died on: February 28, 2007

place of death: Manhattan, New York, United States

U.S. State: Ohio

City: Columbus, Ohio

Ideology: Democrats

More Facts

education: Harvard University, Phillips Exeter Academy

awards: 1946 - Pulitzer Prize
1958 - Bancroft Prize
1958 - Francis Parkman Prize

1966 - National Book Award
1966 - Pulitzer Prize for
1979 - National Book Award
1998 - National Humanities Medal
2003 - Four Freedoms Award
2006 - Paul Peck Award
2006 - Medal Awarded

Childhood & Early Life
Arthur M Schlesinger was born to Elizabeth Harrietand Arthur M. Schlesinger in Columbus, Ohio. His father was a social historian at the Ohio State University and Harvard University.
He received his primary education from Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and later on attended the Harvard University where he received his first degree at the age of 20. In 1938, he graduated with a summa cum laude.
Continue Reading Below
Two years later, in 1940 he was appointed to a three year fellowship at the Harvard. However, he could not continue in the same as he was called for military duties during World War II.
Medically unfit, he took up a position at the Office of War Information in 1942. Starting 1943, he served as an intelligence analyst at the Office of Strategic Services until 1945.
It was while working at the Office of Strategic Services that he used his free time to pen the book, ‘The Age of Jackson’. The book became popular and earned him a Pulitzer Prize.
From 1946, he served as an Associate Professor at Harvard, a position which he continued to serve until 1954 when he became a full time professor. Interestingly, what made him special from other professors at Harvard was that he attained the position without having earned a PhD degree. He continued his professorship until 1961.
Meanwhile, in 1947, he pursued his political interest by founding the Americans for the Democratic Action society together with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Minneapolis mayor and future Senator and Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and economist and long-time friend John Kenneth Galbraith.
For the 1952 presidential elections, he served as the speechwriter and supporter of the Governor Adlai E Stevenson of Illinois. For a year, from 1953 to 1954, he served as the national chairman of Association of Democratic Action.
He did not let go off his literary career completely and penned quite a few books, such as ‘The Vital Center: The Politics of Freedom’, ‘What About Communism’, ‘The General and the President and the Future of American Foreign Policy’, ‘The Crisis of the Old Order’ and ‘The Coming of the New Deal’.
For the 1956 election, he worked on Stevenson's campaign staff, supporting John F. Kennedy as Stevenson's vice-presidential running mate. He shared a cordial relationship with Kennedy since the Harvard days which only strengthened by time. However, the result of the election did not come in favour of Kennedy.
He left the Stevenson camp in 1960 to offer his support to the Kennedy administration. At the time of campaigning, he served as a speechwriter, speaker, and member of the ADA.
Continue Reading Below
To emphasize on his support for the Kennedy administration, he even penned a book entitled, ‘Kennedy or Nixon: Does it Make a Difference?’ In the book, he highlighted the capabilities of the Kennedy administration and sneered at and belittled Richard M. Nixon.
With the appointment of John F Kennedy as the US President, he was offered the position of an ambassadorship and Assistant Secretary of State for Cultural Relations. To accept the same, he relieved himself from his duties at the Harvard University and was appointed Special Assistant to the President
During his term in the White House, his work was mainly centred on the Latin American affairs. He even worked as a speechwriter for the Kennedy regime. During the Cuban crisis, he ardently opposed the Bay of Pigs Invasion but did not voice his opinion at the party meetings.
Post the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, he resigned from his position of Special Assistant the following year. In 1965, he wrote a memoir of the Kennedy administration titled, ‘A Thousand Days: John F Kennedy in the White House’ which earned him his second Pulitzer Prize.
Returning to the career of an academician yet again in 1966, he served as the Albert Schweitzer Professor of the Humanities at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York.
He continued to pursue his literary career as a specialist in American history, exploring the history of American liberalism of the 20th century. He penned numerous books including ‘The MacArthur Controversy and American Foreign Policy’, ‘Bitter Heritage: Vietnam and American Democracy’, ‘Congress and the Presidency: Their Role in Modern Times’, ‘Violence: America in the Sixties’, ‘The Crisis of Confidence: Ideas, Power, and Violence in America’ and ‘The Origins of the Cold War’.
Meanwhile, he did not give up on his political activities. A Kennedy loyalist, he served as the speechwriter for Robert Kennedy administration during the 1968 presidential campaign. In 1980, he supported Senator Ethel Kennedy and was active in the presidential campaign of Ted Kennedy. He even wrote a biography of Robert Kennedy, titled, ‘Robert Kennedy and His Times’.
In 1986, influenced by his father’s work on cycles, he came up with the book entitled, ‘The Cycles of American History’. The work was one of the first to highlight the cycle in politics in the United States.
Two years later, he came up with his work titled, ‘JFK Remembered’, which was a tribute to John F Kennedy. This was followed by ‘War and the Constitution: Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D Roosevelt’ and ‘Cleopatra, New York: Chelsea House’.
Continue Reading Below
In 1993, he released his popular work, ‘The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society’ in which he openly opposed multiculturalism practiced in the 1980s. The following year, he retired from teaching but remained active politically and literarily.
In 2003, he actively criticized the Iraq War and blamed media for not telecasting a reasoned case against the war. The following year, he came up with his last literary work ‘War and the American Presidency’.
Awards & Achievements
He won the Pulitzer Prize twice for his works, ‘The Age of Jackson’ and ‘A Thousand Days’ respectively.
His book, ‘The Crisis of the Old Order’ won him two awards - Bancroft Prize and Francis Parkman Prize.
He won the National Book Award in History and Biography for ‘A Thousand Days’ and National Book Award in Biography for ‘Robert Kennedy and His Times’.
He was the proud recipient of National Humanities Medal, Four Freedoms Award and Paul Peck Award. In 2006, he was awarded a medal by Elmhurst College for epitomizing the ideals of Reinhold and H. Richard Niebuhr
Personal Life & Legacy
He first married author Marian Cannon in 1940 with whom he was blessed with four children. After thirty years of togetherness, the couple filed for divorce in 1970.
In 1971, he tied the nuptial knot yet again with Alexandra Emmet. The couple was blessed with a son. He also had a step son from Emmet’s first marriage.
Throughout his life, he revelled having several friends who were influential personalities in their own right. His friends were mostly from a wide background, such as politicians, actors, writers and artists.
He breathed his last on February 28, 2007 due to cardiac arrest. At the time of his death, he was dining out with family members in Manhattan.
Two of his works were published posthumously.
Two times Pulitzer Prize winner, this American historian served as a special assistant to John F Kennedy during the latter’s period of Presidency.

See the events in life of Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. Biography
- Editors,

People Also Viewed

Peter Weller Biography
Peter Weller
Lenny Bruce Biography
Lenny Bruce
Lola Van Wagenen Biography
Lola Van Wagenen
Stephen Jay Gould Biography
Stephen Jay Gould
Carter Woodson Biography
Carter Woodson
Henry Cabot Lodge Biography
Henry Cabot Lodge
Will Durant Biography
Will Durant
Roger Ebert Biography
Roger Ebert