Samuel Flagg Bemis

Samuel Flagg Bemis (October 20, 1891 – September 26, 1973) was an American historian and biographer. For many years he taught at Yale University. He was also President of the American Historical Association and a specialist in American diplomatic history. He was awarded two Pulitzer Prizes. Jerald A. Combs says he was "the greatest of all historians of early American diplomacy." [1]

Samuel Flagg Bemis
BornOctober 20, 1891
DiedSeptember 26, 1973 (aged 81)
Spouse(s)
Ruth Marjorie Steele (m. 1919)
ChildrenBarbara Bemis Bloch (1921–2013)
AwardsPulitzer Prize (1927; 1950)
Academic background
Alma mater
Doctoral advisorEdward Channing
Other academic advisorsJ. Franklin Jameson
Academic work
DisciplineHistory
Sub-disciplineDiplomatic history
Institutions
Doctoral students
Notable worksPinckney's Treaty: America's Advantage from Europe's Distress, 1783–1800, John Quincy Adams and the Foundations of American Foreign Policy, John Quincy Adams and the Union, The American Secretaries of State and Their Diplomacy series

Biography

Bemis was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, on what he remembered as "the wrong side of the hedge".[2] He received his B.A. degree in 1912 from Clark University. Influenced by George Hubbard Blakeslee of the Clark faculty, Bemis also acquired an A.M. from Clark the following year.[3] In 1916 he was granted his Ph.D. by Harvard University. He first taught at Colorado College from 1917 to 1921.[4] From 1921 to 1923, he taught at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. In 1923–1924, he served as a research associate at the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Division of Historical Research. Bemis joined the faculty at George Washington University in 1924, remaining there a decade, and accepted the history department's chairmanship in 1925. From 1927 to 1929, he led the Library of Congress's European Mission.[5] He left George Washington University in 1934, first serving as lecturer at Harvard University for the 1934–1935 academic year while James Phinney Baxter III was on research leave.[6] Then, in 1935, he took up his position at Yale University, where he remained through the end of his career. He was first the Farnham Professor of Diplomatic History and then in 1945 became the Sterling Professor of Diplomatic History and Inter-American Relations.[7][8][9] In 1958, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[10] He retired in 1960, and served as president of the American Historical Association in 1961. His presidential address for the AHA engaged the topic of "American Foreign Policy and the Blessings of Liberty".[11] He died in Bridgeport, Connecticut, aged 81.

He originally supported the League of Nations but after two decades changed his mind:

The League of Nations has been a disappointing failure. ... It has been a failure, not because the United States did not join it; but because the great powers have been unwilling to apply sanctions except where it suited their individual national interests to do so, and because Democracy, on which the original concepts of the League rested for support, has collapsed over half the world.[12]

Scholarly impact

Mark Gilderhus says Bemis was a "founding father" of the field of diplomatic history in the United States. His tone was nationalistic, typically blaming America's antagonists for conflicts, but he rose above jingoism and provided analysis which ran counter to State Department views. For Bemis, the great achievement US–Latin American relations was Franklin Roosevelt's Good Neighbor policy. He praised it for unifying the Pan American nations, along with the US leadership against Fascists and Nazis. During the Cold War, Bemis saw Latin America as a minor backwater of diplomacy.[13]

Bemis was a strong writer, and his works attracted prizes for their quality. He also impressed upon his students the importance of good writing, a trend which they frequently passed down to their own students. He won the Pulitzer Prize twice. Bemis's books include Jay's Treaty: A Study in Commerce and Diplomacy (1924 and later reprint editions), which won the Knights of Columbus Historical Prize. His Pinckney's Treaty: America's Advantage from Europe's Distress, 1783–1800 (1926) was the published version of the Albert Shaw Lectures on Diplomatic History, and was the winner of the 1927 Pulitzer Prize for History. His other works include The Latin American Policy of the United States (1943) and The Diplomacy of the American Revolution (1935).

His single greatest scholarly achievement was his two-volume life of John Quincy Adams. John Quincy Adams and the Foundations of American Foreign Policy (1949) won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography in 1950; its sequel, John Quincy Adams and the Union (1956), covered Adams's life from his Presidency through his second political career as a member of the United States House of Representatives from Massachusetts. Bemis's favorable view of Adams is distilled in his observation that Adams grasped "the essentials of American policy and the position of the United States in the world."

His 18-volume series The American Secretaries of State and Their Diplomacy appeared first in ten volumes (published by Knopf in 1927–1929) covering Robert R. Livingston to Charles Evans Hughes. These were reprinted in 1958, and the success of the series prompted the creation of a further eight volumes, covering Frank B. Kellogg to Christian Herter, published through 1972.[14] He also authored a well-known textbook on diplomatic history that first appeared in 1936 and went through four revisions.[15]

Awards and prizes

Bibliography

  • Jay's Treaty: A Study in Commerce and Diplomacy (1923)[17]
  • Pinckney's Treaty: America's Advantage from Europe's Distress, 1783–1800 (1926)[18]
  • The American Secretaries of State and their Diplomacy (18 vols., 1927–1972)[19]
  • The Hussey-Cumberland Mission and American Independence (1931)[20]
  • The Diplomacy of the American Revolution. American Historical Association. 1935.[21]
  • Guide to the Diplomatic History of the United States, 1775–1921 (with Grace Gardner Griffin) (1935, reprinted 1951)[22]
  • A Diplomatic History of the United States (1936)[23]
  • Early Diplomatic Missions from Buenos Aires to the United States, 1811–1824 (1940)[24]
  • The Latin American Policy of the United States (1943)[21]
  • John Quincy Adams and the Foundations of American Foreign Policy (1949)[25]
  • John Quincy Adams and the Union (1956)[26]
  • "American Foreign Policy and the Blessings of Liberty", presidential address was delivered to the American Historical Association, December 29, 1961. American Historical Review 67#2 (January 1962): 291–305.

References

  1. ^ Jerald A. Combs, American diplomatic history: two centuries of changing interpretations (1983) p 156.
  2. ^ Combs, 'American diplomatic history (1983) p 156.
  3. ^ Russell H. Bostert and John A. DeNovo, "Samuel Flagg Bemis," Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society vol. LXXXV (1973): 117
  4. ^ Lester D. Langley, "The Diplomatic Historians: Bailey and Bemis," The History Teacher Vol. 6, No. 1 (November 1972): 60.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-05-07. Retrieved 2013-03-16.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Bemis is Chosen History Lecturer Replacing Baxter," Harvard Crimson, April 20, 1934.
  7. ^ "Obituaries," Journal of American History, Vol. 60, No. 4 (March 1974): 1216–1217.
  8. ^ Heinz Dietrich Fischer and Erika J. Fischer, Complete biographical encyclopedia of Pulitzer Prize winners, 1917–2000 (Walter de Gruyter, 2002): 18.
  9. ^ Russell H. Bostert and John A. DeNovo, "Samuel Flagg Bemis," Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society vol. LXXXV (1973): 117–129.
  10. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved June 2, 2011.
  11. ^ "Samuel Flagg Bemis - AHA". Historians.org. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  12. ^ Quoted in Combs, p 158.
  13. ^ Gilderhus, 1997
  14. ^ Bemis, "Preface to New Volumes," in Robert A. Ferrell, Frank B. Kellogg, Vol. XI, The American Secretaries of State and Their Diplomacy (New York: Cooper Square Publishers, 1963): vii.
  15. ^ "Obituaries," Journal of American History, 1217
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-06-04. Retrieved 2011-11-23.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ Bemis, Samuel Flagg (1923-01-01). Jay's Treaty: A Study in Commerce and Diplomacy. Macmillan.
  18. ^ Samuel Flagg Bemis (1960-01-01). Pinckneys Treaty Americans Advantage From Europes Distress 1783–1800. Yale University Press.
  19. ^ Bemis, Samuel Flagg; Ferrell, Robert H. The American Secretaries of State and their diplomacy. New York: Cooper Square Publishers.
  20. ^ Bemis, Samuel F. (1987-06-01). The Hussey-Cumberland Mission and American Independence. Peter Smith Publisher, Incorporated. ISBN 9780844610696.
  21. ^ a b Bemis, Samuel Flagg (1957-01-01). The diplomacy of the American Revolution. Indiana University Press.
  22. ^ Bemis, Samuel Flagg; Griffin, Grace Gardner (1935-01-01). Guide to the Diplomatic History of the United States: 1775–1921. US Government Printing Office.
  23. ^ Bemis, Samuel Flagg (1936). A Diplomatic History of the United States. Holt.
  24. ^ Cabon, Adolphe; Bemis, Samuel Flagg (1940-01-01). Early diplomatic missions from Buenos Aires to the United States, 1811–1824.
  25. ^ Bemis, Samuel Flagg (1981-01-01). John Quincy Adams and the Foundations of American Foreign Policy. Greenwood Press. ISBN 9780313226366.
  26. ^ Bemis, Samuel Flagg (1956). John Quincy Adams and the Union. Knopf.

Further reading

  • Gilderhus, Mark T. (1997). "Founding Father: Samuel Flagg Bemis and the Study of U.S.-Latin American Relations". Diplomatic History. 21 (1): 1–12. doi:10.1111/1467-7709.00048.
  • Wilson, Clyde N. (1983). Twentieth-Century American Historians. Dictionary of Literary Biography. 17. Gale. pp. 64–60.
  • Encyclopedia Americana (1969 ed.). p. 533.

External links

1927 Pulitzer Prize

The following are the Pulitzer Prizes for 1927.

1950 Pulitzer Prize

The following are the Pulitzer Prizes for 1950.

Albert Shaw Lectures on Diplomatic History

The Albert Shaw Lectures on Diplomatic History are annual lectures delivered at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. The lectures were named after the benefactor, Albert Shaw of New York City who had received his Ph.D from Johns Hopkins University in history and who was editor of The American Review of Reviews. Shaw lecturers over the years have included the following:

1899: John H. Latané

1900: James Morton Callahan

1906: Jesse Siddall Reeves

1907: Elbert Jay Benton

1909: Ephraim Douglass Adams

1911: Charles O. Paullin

1912: Isaac Joslin Cox

1913: William R. Manning

1914: Frank A. Updyke

1916: Payson Jackson Treat

1921: Percy Alvin Martin

1924: Henry Merritt Wriston

1926: Samuel Flagg Bemis

1927: Bruce Williams

1928: J. Fred Rippy

1929: Joseph Byrne Lockey

1930: Víctor Andrés Belaúnde

1931: Charles C. Tansill

1932:

1933: Charles Seymour

1934:

1935: Frank A. Simonds

1936: Julius W. Pratt

1937: Dexter Perkins

1938:

1939: Albert K. Weinberg

1940:

1941: Thomas A. Bailey

1942: Wilfred H. Callcott

1943:

1944:

1945:

1946: Malbone Watson Graham

1947:

1948:

1949:

1950:

1951:

1952:

1953: Howard K. Beale

1954: Max Beloff

1955:

1956: Arthur S. Link

1957:

1958: Gordon A. Craig

1959:

1960:

1961: Herbert George Nicholas

1968: Robert A. Divine

1979: Bradford Perkins

1980:

1981:

1982:

1983:

1984:

1985:

1986:

1987:

1988: Akira Iriye

1998: Charles E. Neu, Brian Balogh, George C. Herring, Robert K. Brigham, and Robert S. McNamara

Allan Nevins

Joseph Allan Nevins (May 20, 1890 – March 5, 1971) was an American historian and journalist, known for his extensive work on the history of the Civil War and his biographies of such figures as Grover Cleveland, Hamilton Fish, Henry Ford, and John D. Rockefeller, as well as his public service. He was a leading exponent of business history and oral history.

Art and Life in America

Art and Life in America is a book by Oliver W. Larkin published in 1949 by Rinehart & Company which won the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for History. It is a book which comprehensively deals about Art and artists in the United States .

Carleton Mabee

Carleton Mabee (December 24, 1914 – December 18, 2014) was an American writer who won the 1944 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography for The American Leonardo: The Life of Samuel F B. Morse.

Department of the Army Historical Advisory Committee

The Department of the Army Historical Advisory Committee was established in January 1947 within the United States Army. In 1996, it was made a subcommittee of the Department of Defense Historical Advisory Committee.

Harish C. Mehta

Harish Chandra Mehta is a university lecturer and historian of the Foreign Relations of the United States.

Henry Osborn Taylor

Henry Osborn Taylor (1856 – April 13, 1941) was an American historian and legal scholar.

History of the American Frontier

History of the American Frontier is a book by Frederic L. Paxson published in 1924 by Simon Publications which won the 1925 Pulitzer Prize for History.

In the Days of McKinley

In the Days of McKinley is a book by Margaret Leech published in 1959 by Harper & Brothers Publishers which won the 1960 Pulitzer Prize for History. It is a Biography of the former American President William McKinley.

Pulitzer Prize for History

The Pulitzer Prize for History, administered by Columbia University, is one of the seven American Pulitzer Prizes that are annually awarded for Letters, Drama, and Music. It has been presented since 1917 for a distinguished book about the history of the United States. Thus it is one of the original Pulitzers, for the program was inaugurated in 1917 with seven prizes, four of which were awarded that year. The Pulitzer Prize program has also recognized some historical work with its Biography prize, from 1917, and its General Non-Fiction prize, from 1952.

Finalists have been announced from 1980, ordinarily two others beside the winner.

Richard Salter Storrs

Richard Salter Storrs (August 21, 1821 – June 7, 1900) was an American Congregational clergyman.

Scientists Against Time

Scientists Against Time is a book by James Phinney Baxter III published in 1946 by Little, Brown and Company which won the 1947 Pulitzer Prize for History.

The Uprooted

The Uprooted: The Epic Story of the Great Migrations That Made the American People is book about European migrations into the United States by Oscar Handlin. It won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1952.

The War of Independence

The War of Independence is a Pulitzer Prize-winning book by American historian Claude H. Van Tyne, published in 1929. It explains the history and causes of the American Revolutionary War. Van Tyne won the Pulitzer Prize for History for this book in 1930.

The War with Mexico

The War with Mexico is a book by Justin Harvey Smith. It won the 1920 Pulitzer Prize for History.

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