Samuel Eliot Morison (July 9, 1887 – May 15, 1976) was an American historian noted for his works of maritime history and American history that were both authoritative and popular. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1912, and taught history at the university for 40 years. He won Pulitzer Prizes for Admiral of the Ocean Sea (1942), a biography of Christopher Columbus, and John Paul Jones: A Sailor's Biography (1959). In 1942, he was commissioned to write a history of United States naval operations in World War II, which was published in 15 volumes between 1947 and 1962. Morison wrote the popular Oxford History of the American People (1965), and co-authored the classic textbook The Growth of the American Republic (1930) with Henry Steele Commager.
Over the course of his career, Morison received eleven honorary doctoral degrees, and garnered numerous literary prizes, military honors, and national awards from both foreign countries and the United States, including two Pulitzer Prizes, two Bancroft Prizes, the Balzan Prize, the Legion of Merit, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Samuel Eliot Morison
|Born||July 9, 1887|
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||May 15, 1976 (aged 88)|
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Service/||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1942–1951|
|Rank||Rear admiral (reserve)|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Samuel Eliot Morison was born July 9, 1887, in Boston, Massachusetts, to John Holmes Morison (1856–1911) and Emily Marshall (Eliot) Morison (1857–1925). He was named for his maternal grandfather Samuel Eliot—a historian, educator, and public-minded citizen of Boston and Hartford, Connecticut. The Eliot family, which produced generations of prominent American intellectuals, descended from Andrew Eliot, who moved to Boston in the 1660s from the English village of East Coker. The most famous of this Andrew Eliot's direct descendants was poet T.S. Eliot, who titled the second of his Four Quartets "East Coker".
Morison attended Noble and Greenough School (1897–1901) and St. Paul's (1901–1903) prior to entering Harvard University, where he was a member of the Phoenix S K Club. At the age of fourteen, he learned to sail, and soon after learned horsemanship—both skills would serve him well in his later historical writings. He earned both a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree from Harvard in 1908. After studying at the École Libre des Sciences Politiques (1908–1909), Morison returned to Harvard.
Morison originally intended to major in mathematics until Albert Bushnell Hart talked him into researching some papers of an ancestor stored in his wine cellar. His Harvard dissertation was the basis for his first book The Life and Letters of Harrison Gray Otis, Federalist, 1765–1848 (1913), which sold 700 copies. After earning his Ph.D. at Harvard, Morison became an instructor in history at the University of California, Berkeley in 1912. In 1915 he returned to Harvard and took a position as an instructor. During World War I he served as a private in the US Army. He also served as the American Delegate on the Baltic Commission of the Paris Peace Conference until June 17, 1919.
In 1922–1925 Morison taught at Oxford University as the first Harmsworth Professor of American History. In 1925 he returned to Harvard, where he was appointed a full professor. One of several subjects that fascinated Morison was the history of New England. As early as 1921 he published The Maritime History of Massachusetts, 1783-1860. In the 1930s Morison published a series of books on the history of Harvard University and New England, including Builders of the Bay Colony: A Gallery of Our Intellectual Ancestors (1930), The Founding of Harvard College (1935), Harvard College in the Seventeenth Century (1936), Three Centuries of Harvard: 1636–1936 (1936), and The Puritan Pronaos (1936). In later years, he returned to the subject of New England history, writing The Ropemakers of Plymouth (1950) and The Story of the 'Old Colony' of New Plymouth (1956) and editing the definitive work, Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620–1647 (1952).
During his time at Harvard, Morison became the last professor to arrive on campus on horseback. He was chosen to speak at the 300th Anniversary celebration of Harvard in 1936 and a recording of his speech is included as part of the "Harvard Voices" collection.
In 1940, Morison published Portuguese Voyages to America in the Fifteenth Century, a book that presaged his succeeding publications on the explorer, Christopher Columbus. In 1941, Morison was named Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History at Harvard. For Admiral of the Ocean Sea (1942), Morison combined his personal interest in sailing with his scholarship by actually sailing to the various places that Columbus explored. The Harvard Columbus Expedition, led by Morison and including his wife and Captain John W. McElroy, Herbert F. Hossmer, Jr., Richard S. Colley, Dr. Clifton W. Anderson, Kenneth R. Spear and Richard Spear, left on 28 August 1939 aboard the 147 foot ketch Capitana for the Azores and Lisbon, Portugal from which they sailed on the 45 foot ketch Mary Otis to retrace Columbus' route using manuscripts and records of his voyages reaching Trinidad by way of Cadiz, Madeira, and the Canary Islands. After following the coast of South and Central America the expedition returned to Trinidad on 15 December 1939. The expedition returned to New York on 2 February 1940 aboard the United Fruit liner Veragua. The book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1943.
In 1942, Morison met with his friend President Franklin D. Roosevelt and offered to write a history of United States Navy operations during the war from an insider's perspective by taking part in operations and documenting them. The President and Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox agreed to the proposal. On May 5, 1942, Morison was commissioned a lieutenant commander in the US Naval Reserve, and was called at once to active duty. Gregory Pfitzer explained his procedures:
Morison worked with a team of researchers to prepare the History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, published in 15 volumes between 1947–1962, documenting everything from strategy and tactics to technology and the exploits of individuals. British military historian Sir John Keegan called it the best to come out of that conflict. Issued as The Rising Sun in the Pacific in 1948, Volume 3 won the Bancroft Prize in 1949.
Morison was promoted to the rank of captain on December 15, 1945. On August 1, 1951, he was transferred to the Honorary Retired List of the Naval Reserve and was promoted to Rear Admiral on the basis of combat awards.
In History as a Literary Art: An Appeal to Young Historians (1946), Morison argued that vivid writing springs from the synergy of experience and research:
American historians, in their eagerness to present facts and their laudable concern to tell the truth, have neglected the literary aspects of their craft. They have forgotten that there is an art of writing history.
In 1955, Morison retired from Harvard University. He devoted the rest of his life to writing. In quick succession, Morison wrote Christopher Columbus, Mariner (1955), Freedom in Contemporary Society (1956), The Story of the 'Old Colony' of New Plymouth, 1620–1692 (1956), Nathaniel Holmes Morison (1957), William Hickling Prescott (1958), Strategy and Compromise (1958), and John Paul Jones: A Sailor's Biography (1959), which earned Morison his second Pulitzer Prize.
In the early 1960s, Morison's focus returned to his New England youth, writing The Story of Mount Desert Island, Maine (1960), One Boy's Boston, 1887–1901 (1962), Introduction to Whaler Out of New Bedford (1962), and A History of the Constitution of Massachusetts (1963). In 1963, The Two-Ocean War was published, a one-volume abridged history of the United States Navy in World War II.
In 1964, Morison received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Lyndon B. Johnson. In presenting the distinguished historian with the highest civilian award in the United States, Johnson noted:
Scholar and sailor, this amphibious historian has combined a life of action and literary craftsmanship to lead two generations of Americans on countless voyages of discovery.
Morison's later years were devoted to books on exploration, such as The Caribbean as Columbus Saw It (1964), Spring Tides (1965), The European Discovery of America (1971–1974), and Samuel de Champlain: Father of [New France (1972). His research for the latter book included sailing many of the routes taken by Champlain, and tracing others by airplane.
Morison's first marriage to Elizabeth S. Greene produced four children—one of whom, Emily Morison Beck, became editor of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. Elizabeth died August 20, 1945. In 1949, Morison married Baltimore widow Priscilla Barton. Priscilla died February 22, 1973.
Morison died of a stroke on May 15, 1976. His ashes are buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Northeast Harbor, Maine. During his life he had received two Pulitzers, two Bancroft Prizes, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences' Emerson-Thoreau Medal (1961), and numerous honorary degrees, military awards, and honors from foreign nations.
On July 19, 1979, the frigate USS Samuel Eliot Morison was launched, honoring Morison and his contributions to the United States Navy. Morison's legacy is also sustained by the United States Naval History and Heritage Command's Samuel Eliot Morison Naval History Scholarship. Boston's Commonwealth Avenue Mall features a bronze statue depicting Morison in sailor's oilskin.
Morison's last known public appearance was on April 8, 1976, when he served as the ribbon cutter to open the USS Constitution Museum. "The Museum's research library and an annual award given by the Museum for scholarship in history are both named in his honor." The museum gives the annual Samuel Eliot Morison Award to a person whose public service has enhanced the image of the USS Constitution, and who reflects the best of Samuel Eliot Morison: artful scholarship, patriotic pride, and eclectic interest in the sea and things maritime.
In 1976, the American Heritage magazine initiated an award named in honor of Morison called the Samuel Eliot Morison Award, honoring an American author whose work shows "that good history is literature as well as high scholarship." It lasted two years.
Morison was criticized by some African-American scholars for his treatment of American slavery in early editions of his book The Growth of the American Republic, which he co-wrote with Henry Steele Commager and later with Commager's student William E. Leuchtenburg. The book originated as Morison's two-volume Oxford History of the United States (Oxford University Press, 1927). First published in 1930, the first two editions of the textbook, according to these critics, echoed the thesis of American Negro Slavery (1918) by Ulrich Bonnell Phillips. This view, sometimes called the Phillips school of slavery historiography, was considered an authoritative interpretation of the history of American slavery during the first half of the twentieth century, despite the intense criticism by some African-American scholars for its alleged racist underpinnings. Phillips's theories remained authoritative, considered by many white scholars to be ground-breaking and progressive when first proposed. In 1944, the NAACP began its criticism of The Growth of the American Republic.
In 1950, while denying any racist intent—he noted his daughter's marriage to the son of Joel Elias Spingarn, the former President of the NAACP—Morrison reluctantly agreed to most of the demanded changes. Morison refused to eliminate references to slaves who were loyal and devoted to their masters because they were treated well, and to some positive "civilizing" effects of the American system of slavery. Morison also refused to remove references to stereotypes of African Americans that he believed were vital in accurately depicting the racist nature of American culture in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—an era when even the most enlightened progressive thinkers routinely explained many aspects of human behavior as a result of innate racial or ethnic characteristics. In the 1962 edition of the textbook, Morison removed additional content that these critics found offensive.
In his semi-official account of the Battle of Savo Island, a disastrous defeat for the U.S. Navy in World War II, Morison partly blamed the defeat on the failure of an Australian aircrew to inform the Americans of the approaching Japanese forces. Morison appears to have based this story on inaccurate, now refuted, information. On October 21, 2014 the US Navy issued a letter of apology to the last surviving member of the RAAF Hudson crew, who had sighted and duly reported the approach of the Japanese Naval Task Force; the letter states that "RAdm. Morison's criticism was unwarranted".
|1st Row||Legion of Merit with "V" device||Navy Unit Commendation||Presidential Medal of Freedom (1964)|
|2nd Row||World War I Victory Medal||American Campaign Medal||European-African-Middle Eastern |
with battle star
|3rd Row||Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
with six battle stars
|World War II Victory Medal||Officer, Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (1961)|
|4th Row||Commander, Order of the White Rose of Finland||Commander, Order of Isabella the Catholic (1963)||Philippine Liberation Medal|
The following is a list of books written by Samuel Eliot Morison, arranged alphabetically.
Alvin David Coox, (pronounced "cooks"; March 8, 1924, Rochester, New York – November 4, 1999, San Diego, California) was an American military historian and author known for his award-winning book, Nomonhan: Japan Against Russia.
Coox studied at New York University with a bachelor's degree in accounting and achieved his doctorate in history at Harvard University. He taught at Harvard University in the 1940s and at Johns Hopkins University, before working as an analyst for the elucidation of 15 years Air Force after they went to Japan. From 1964 to 1995, he taught at San Diego State University.
Coox is primarily known for his two volume book, Nomonhan: Japan Against Russia, about the nearly forgotten battles in the Nomonhan Incident, where the Soviet Union and Japan fought for control of Mongolia and Japan was halted in its inland westward conquest from Manchuria. In 1986, he received the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize.American Heritage (magazine)
American Heritage is a magazine dedicated to covering the history of the United States of America for a mainstream readership. Until 2007, the magazine was published by Forbes. Since that time, Edwin S. Grosvenor has been its publisher. Print publication was suspended early in 2013, but the magazine relaunched in digital format with the Summer 2017 issue after a Kickstarter campaign raised $31,203 from 587 backers. The publisher stated it also intended to relaunch the magazine's sister publication Invention & Technology, which ceased print publication in 2011.Craig Symonds
Craig Lee Symonds (born 31 December 1946, in Long Beach, California) is the Distinguished Visiting Ernest J. King Professor of Maritime History for the academic years 2017-2019 at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. He is also Professor Emeritus at the U. S. Naval Academy where he served as chairman of the history department. He is a distinguished historian of the American Civil War and maritime history. His book Lincoln and His Admirals received the Lincoln Prize. His book Neptune: the Allied Invasion of Europe and the D-Day Landings was the 2015 recipient of the Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature.Frenchman Bay
Frenchman Bay is a bay in Hancock County, Maine, named for Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer who visited the area in 1604.
Frenchman Bay may have been the location of the Jesuit St. Sauveur mission, established in 1613.In a 1960 book titled, "The Story of Mount Desert Island", Samuel Eliot Morison wrote, "Frenchmans Bay was so called because it became a staging point for French warships preparing to fight the English."
The bay is bounded on the east by the Schoodic Peninsula, and on the west by Mount Desert Island; parts of both are in Acadia National Park. It contains numerous islands, the largest of which is Ironbound Island. The highest elevation of the islands in the bay is found on Jordan Island. The largest town on the bay is Bar Harbor, on Mount Desert Island.
The bay extends for roughly 15 miles (24 km) and spans 7 miles (11 km) at its widest.History of United States Naval Operations in World War II
The History of United States Naval Operations in World War II is a 15-volume account of the United States Navy in World War II, written by Samuel Eliot Morison and published by Little, Brown and Company between 1947 and 1962.John Chester Miller
John Chester Miller (1907-1991) was a US historian who wrote of the American Revolution and its prominent figures. His books were well received.Born in Santa Barbara, California, he studied at College of Puget Sound for a year before transferring to Harvard University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1930. Encouraged by Samuel Eliot Morison to change his postgraduate focus to history, he received master's and doctoral degrees in that field during the 1930s.He taught at Bryn Mawr College and at Stanford University.Penelope Jencks
Penelope Jencks (born 1936 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA) is an American sculptor, a graduate of Boston University (BFA, 1958). Her public works include a statue of the historian Samuel Eliot Morison (1982), on Commonwealth Ave. in Boston, Massachusetts; and the Robert Frost Sculpture (2007) at Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts. She is best known, however, for her statue of Eleanor Roosevelt (1996) in New York City.Raid on Canso (1776)
The Raid on Canso took place on 22 September – November 22, 1776 during the American Revolutionary War. The raid involved John Paul Jones attacking Canso, Nova Scotia and the surrounding fishing villages.Samuel Eliot Morison Award
Samuel Eliot Morison Award may refer to:
Samuel Eliot Morison Award (American Heritage), established in 1976 by American Heritage Publishing Company
Samuel Eliot Morison Award (USS Constitution Museum), established in 1977 by USS Constitution Museum
Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature, established in 1982 by the New York Commandery of the Naval Order of the United States
Samuel Eliot Morison Prize, established in 1985 by the Society for Military HistorySamuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature
For other awards with this name see Samuel Eliot Morison AwardThe Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature is for literature about the United States Navy. The award was created in 1982 by the New York Commandery of the Naval Order of the United States, who administers and chooses the winner which is a significant book on naval history from the prior year.The prize is named for Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison, a military historian.Samuel Eliot Morison bibliography
The Samuel Eliot Morison bibliography contains a list of books and articles written by American historian Samuel Eliot Morison.Samuel Morison
Samuel Morison is the name of:
Samuel Eliot Morison (1887–1976), American historian and navy man
Samuel Loring Morison (born 1944), American intelligence analyst and grandson of S.E. MorisonScott Phillpott
A US Naval captain, Scott Phillpott came to prominence after informing the 2004 9/11 Commission that a data-mining project named Able Danger had identified hijack leader Mohamed Atta as a threat tied to al-Qaeda and living in Brooklyn as early as January 2000, many months before his attack in September 2001.
He was quoted by Fox News in August 2005 as stating I have briefed the Department of the Army, the Special Operations Command and the office of (Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence) Dr. Cambone as well as the 9/11 Commission. My story has remained consistent.Phillpott and a civilian technician identified as "JD Smith" were the two sources for Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer's claims of an intelligence failure.
Phillpott has commanded the USS Typhoon (PC 5), USS Samuel Eliot Morison (FFG 13), USS ESTOCIN (FFG-15), and USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55).Society for Military History
The Society for Military History is a United States-based international organization of scholars who research, write, and teach military history of all time periods and places. It includes naval history, air power history, and studies of technology, ideas, and homefronts. It publishes the quarterly refereed Journal of Military History.USS Constitution Museum
The USS Constitution Museum is located in the Charlestown Navy Yard, which is part of the Boston National Historical Park in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. The museum is situated near the ship USS Constitution at the end of Boston's Freedom Trail. The museum is housed in a restored shipyard building at the foot of Pier 2.
The museum, through its collections and interactive exhibits, tells the story of Constitution ("Old Ironsides") and the people who designed, built, and sailed her. The museum is also home to the Samuel Eliot Morison Memorial Library and includes a comprehensive archival repository of records related to the ship's history. The USS Constitution Museum is a private, non-profit organization that is managed separately from the naval ship.USS Samuel Eliot Morison (FFG-13)
USS Samuel Eliot Morison (FFG-13), was the seventh Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate in service with the United States Navy. She was named for Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison (1887–1976), one of America's most distinguished naval historians, who wrote more than 40 books on naval history.
Samuel Eliot Morison was the first ship of that name in the U.S. Navy.USS Wimbee (IX-88)
USS Wimbee (IX-88) was an auxiliary yawl of the United States Navy during World War II. Built in 1938 at Bremen, Germany as Condor, the yacht was acquired by the US Navy from Mr. W. L. MacFarland of Greenwich, Connecticut, in August 1942.
Wimbee served in what Samuel Eliot Morison has called the "Hooligan Navy," a motley assortment of sailing ships and pleasure craft assembled by the Navy to combat the U-boat menace before America's huge antisubmarine warship production program hit full gear. She was renamed Wimbee and was placed in service at Port Everglades, Florida, on 11 September 1942.William Leuchtenburg
William Edward Leuchtenburg (born September 28, 1922) is the William Rand Kenan Jr. professor emeritus of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a leading scholar of the life and career of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Presidents of the American Historical Association
Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography (1926–1950)
Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography (1951–1975)