American historian, educator, and public servant Arthur M. Schlesinger was one of the key figures who studied the development of American liberalism in the 20th century. He started his career as an Office of the Strategic Services employee after graduating from Harvard University. He pursued a literary career concurrently with his employment at the OSS and produced the book “The Age of Jackson,” for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He began his political career as a copywriter for Adlai Stevenson before quickly turning into a fervent ally of the Kennedy administration. He held the distinguished position of special assistant to the president during the John F. Kennedy administration. He later penned a book in which he provided a thorough description of his time serving as an advisor during the Kennedy Administration. The book, titled “A Thousand Days,” brought him his second Pulitzer Prize. He continued to teach until 1994 at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York, where he was the Albert Schweitzer Professor of the Humanities.
Early Childhood & Life
Elizabeth Harriet and Arthur M. Schlesinger welcomed a son named Arthur M. to the world in Columbus, Ohio. At Harvard University and the Ohio State University, his father was a social historian.
He attended the New Hampshire-based Philips Exeter Academy for his elementary schooling before going on to Harvard University, where he graduated with his first degree at the age of 20. He received a summa cum laude in 1938.
career of Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.
He was given a three-year fellowship at Harvard two years later, in 1940. He was called to military duty during World War II, thus he was unable to continue in the same capacity.
He started working at the Office of War Information in 1942 despite being medically unfit. He began working as an intelligence analyst at the Office of Strategic Services in 1943 and remained there until 1945.
He wrote the book “The Age of Jackson” in his spare time while working in the Office of Strategic Services. He won the Pulitzer Prize and gained popularity for the novel.
He began working as an Associate Professor at Harvard in 1946 and held that post there until 1954, when he switched to a full-time teaching position. He had an interesting distinction from other Harvard professors in that he had become a professor without having obtained a PhD. His tenure as a professor lasted until 1961.
Along with Minneapolis mayor and future senator and vice president Hubert Humphrey, economist John Kenneth Galbraith, and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, he pursued his political interest by creating the Americans for the Democratic Action group in 1947.
He worked as Illinois Governor Adlai E. Stevenson’s speechwriter and supporter for the 1952 presidential elections. He was the national chairman of the Association of Democratic Action for a year, from 1953 to 1954.
The General and the President and the Future of American Foreign Policy, The Vital Center: The Politics of Freedom, What About Communism, The Crisis of the Old Order, and The Coming of the New Deal are only a few of the volumes he wrote. He did not fully abandon his writing career, though.
He supported John F. Kennedy, Stevenson’s vice presidential running mate, by working on the campaign staff for Stevenson in the 1956 election. Since their time at Harvard, he had a friendly relationship with Kennedy that has only grown stronger over time. However, Kennedy did not fare well in the outcome of the race.
In 1960, he defected from the Stevenson camp to support the Kennedy presidency. He worked as a speechwriter, speaker, and ADA member while running for office.
He even wrote a book with the working title “Kennedy or Nixon: Does it Make a Difference?” to underline his support for the Kennedy administration. In the book, he praised the Kennedy administration’s accomplishments while mocking and demeaning Richard M. Nixon.
John F. Kennedy was given the positions of ambassador and assistant secretary of state for cultural relations upon his election as US president. He resigned from his position at Harvard University in order to accept it, and he was then appointed Special Assistant to the President.
His work throughout his time at the White House was mostly focused on Latin American issues. He even wrote speeches for the Kennedy administration. He vehemently opposed the Bay of Pigs invasion during the Cuban crisis but remained silent during party meetings.
He left his role as Special Assistant the year after President Kennedy was assassinated, in 1963. He won his second Pulitzer Prize in 1965 for his memoir of the Kennedy presidency, “A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House,” which was published.
In 1966, he went back to his academic career and held the position of Albert Schweitzer Professor of the Humanities at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York.
He persisted in his creative endeavors as a specialist in American history, researching the 20th-century history of American liberalism. 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 are just a few of the many books he wrote.
He continued with his political efforts in the interim. He wrote speeches for Robert Kennedy’s administration during the 1968 election as a devoted Kennedy supporter. He participated in Ted Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1980 and backed Senator Ethel Kennedy. Even a biography of Robert Kennedy called “Robert Kennedy and His Times” was written by him.
His father’s cycle-related research inspired him to write “The Cycles of American History” in 1986. The piece was among the first to draw attention to the political cycle in the US.
Two years later, he created a piece of art honoring John F. Kennedy with the title “JFK Remembered.” “War and the Constitution: Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt” and “Cleopatra, New York: Chelsea House” were the books that came after this.
In 1993, he published his well-known book, “The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society,” in which he vehemently denounced the 1980s’ form of multiculturalism. He retired from teaching the next year but continued to be involved in politics and literature.
He vocally opposed the Iraq War in 2003, blaming the media for failing to present a persuasive argument against it. He wrote his final piece of literature, “War and the American Presidency,” the following year. as follows:
Recognition & Achievements
He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize twice, once for “The Age of Jackson” and once for “A Thousand Days.”
He received two honors for his work, “The Crisis of the Old Order”: the Francis Parkman Prize and the Bancroft Prize.
For “A Thousand Days” and “Robert Kennedy and His Times,” he received National Book Awards in history and biography, respectively.
He was honored to receive the Paul Peck Award, the Four Freedoms Award, and the National Humanities Medal. He received a medal from Elmhurst College in 2006 for exemplifying Reinhold and H. Richard Niebuhr’s values.
Personal Legacy & Life
In 1940, he first wed the writer Marian Cannon, with whom he had four children. In 1970, the couple, who had been married for thirty years, filed for divorce.
With Alexandra Emmet, he exchanged vows once more in 1971. The couple received a son as a gift. In addition, he had a step-son from Emmet’s first union.
He enjoyed having a number of friends who were notable people in their own right during his entire life. Most of his pals came from a diverse range of backgrounds, including politicians, actors, writers, and artists.
On February 28, 2007, he passed away from cardiac arrest. He was having dinner with family in Manhattan when he passed away.
Posthumously, two of his works were released.
Estimated Net Worth
The Estimated net worth of Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. is unknown.
This American historian, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, worked as John F. Kennedy’s special assistant during his tenure in office.