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Samuel Flagg Bemis

Samuel Flagg Bemis
Residence United States
Institutions Yale University
Alma mater Clark University, Harvard University
Doctoral advisor Edward Channing
Other academic advisors J. Franklin Jameson
Doctoral students Robert H. Ferrell,[1] Lawrence S. Kaplan,[2] Robert Divine, John A. DeNovo, Sadao Asada, Russell H. Bostert, William W. Kaufmann
Spouse Ruth Marjorie Steele (m. 20 June, 1919)
Children Barbara Bemis Bloch (1921-2013)

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.

Contents

  • Biography 1
  • Scholarly Impact 2
  • Awards and Prizes 3
  • Bibliography 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6

Biography

Born in 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.

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 U.S. leadership against Fascists and Nazis. During the Cold War, Bemis saw Latin America as a minor backwater of diplomacy.[12]

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.[13] He also authored a well-known textbook on diplomatic history that first appeared in 1936 and went through four revisions.[14]

Awards and Prizes

Bibliography

  • Jay's Treaty: A Study in Commerce and Diplomacy (1923)[16]
  • Pinckney's Treaty: America's Advantage from Europe's Distress, 1783-1800 (1926)[17]
  • The American Secretaries of State and their Diplomacy (18 vols., 1927–1972)[18]
  • The Hussey-Cumberland Mission and American Independence (1931)[19]
  • The Diplomacy of the American Revolution (1935)[20]
  • Guide to the Diplomatic History of the United States, 1775-1921 (with Grace Gardner Griffin) (1935, reprinted 1951)[21]
  • A Diplomatic History of the United States (1936)[22]
  • Early Diplomatic Missions from Buenos Aires to the United States, 1811-1824 (1940)[23]
  • The Latin American Policy of the United States (1943)[24]
  • John Quincy Adams and the Foundations of American Foreign Policy (1949)[25]
  • John Quincy Adams and the Union (1956)[26]

References

  1. ^ J. Garry Clifford, "The Young Bob Ferrell," Presidents, Diplomats, and Other Mortals: Essays Honoring Robert H. Ferrell (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2007): 307-315
  2. ^ Scott L. Bills and E. Timothy Smith, eds., The Romance of History: Essays in Honor of Lawrence S. Kaplan (Kent: Kent State University Press, 1997): xii-xiii.
  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. ^ "Samuel Flagg Bemis," The GW and Foggy Bottom Historical Encyclopedia, http://encyclopedia.gwu.edu/gwencyclopediarticles/Bemis%2C_Samuel_Flagg
  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. ^ "American Foreign Policy and the Blessings of Liberty," Presidential Address, American Historical Association, December 29, 1961, http://www.historians.org/info/aha_history/sfbemis.htm
  12. ^ Gilderhus, 1997
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "Obituaries," Journal of American History, 1217
  15. ^ http://www.gf.org/fellows/1029-samuel-flagg-bemis
  16. ^ books.google.com
  17. ^ archive.org
  18. ^ catalog.hathitrust.org
  19. ^ books.google.com
  20. ^ books.google.com
  21. ^ books.google.com
  22. ^ books.google.com
  23. ^ books.google.com
  24. ^ books.google.com
  25. ^ books.google.com
  26. ^ books.google.com

Further reading

  • Gilderhus, Mark T. "Founding father: Samuel Flagg Bemis and the study of U.S.-Latin American relations," Diplomatic History (1997) 21#1 pp 1–12
  • Wilson, Clyde N. Twentieth-Century American Historians (Gale: 1983, Dictionary of Literary Biography, volume 17) pp 64-60
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