Schlesinger, Jr., Arthur M.


Born: October 15, 1917
Died: February 28, 2007
Ohio connection: Birth

Historian and writer Arthur Bancroft Schlesinger was born in Columbus, Ohio, October 15, 1917, the oldest son of prominent historian, Arthur Meier Schlesinger, and Elizabeth Bancroft Schlesinger.  As a teenager he changed his name to Arthur Meier Schlesinger, Jr.  His father was professor of American history at Ohio State, Iowa and Harvard.  Arthur Meier Schlesinger Jr. earned a B.A. in History graduating Summa cum laude from Harvard in 1938.

He served as an intelligence officer during World War II.  Active in the Democratic Party, he was a speechwriter in the presidential campaigns of Adlai Stevenson in 1956 and John F Kennedy in 1960.  As the presidential assistant for Latin American Affairs in the Kennedy administration (1961-64), he was nearly alone in his opposition to the ill-fated “Bay of Pigs” operation in Cuba.  After Kennedy was assassinated in November, 1963, Schlesinger resigned his position and went on to write his history of the Kennedy administration, A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House, which won him his second Pulitzer Prize. In 1967, he became a professor at the City College of New York. Schlesinger was married to and divorced from Marian Cannon before marrying Alexandra Emmet in 1971. Schlesinger died February 28, 2007, at Downtown Hospital in Manhattan after suffering a heart attack, survived by five children and both wives.


1998 National Humanities Medal;  1966, Pulitzer Prize, Biography Award, for A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House;  1946, Pulitzer Prize, History Award, for The Age of Jackson.  Other awards include…Henry Fellow, Cambridge University, 1938-39; Harvard Fellow, 1939-42; Francis Parkman Prize, Society of American Historians, 1957 for The Age of Roosevelt;  Frederic Bancroft Prize, Columbia University, 1958, for The Age of Roosevelt, Volume 1: The Crisis of the Old Order; National Book Award, 1966, for A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House, and 1979, for Robert Kennedy and His Times; gold medal in history and biography, American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1967; Ohio Governor’s Award for history, 1973; Sidney Hillman Foundation Award, 1973, for The Imperial Presidency; Eugene V. Debs Award in education, 1974; Fregene Prize for literature, Italy, 1983. Honorary degrees from many schools and universities, including New School for Social Research, 1966, Rutgers University, 1982, University of New Hampshire, 1985, Oxford University, 1987, Middlebury College, 1994, Harvard University, 2001.