- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 1, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) — Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and “court philosopher” of the Kennedy administration who remained a proud liberal even as others dared not use the word, has died. He was 89.

Mr. Schlesinger was dining with family members in Manhattan on Wednesday when he suffered a heart attack, his son Stephen said. He died at New York Downtown Hospital.

Mr. Schlesinger was among the most prominent historians of his time, widely respected as learned and readable, with a panoramic vision of American culture and politics. He received a National Book Award for “Robert Kennedy and His Times” and a National Book Award and a Pulitzer for “A Thousand Days,” his memoir/chronicle of John F. Kennedy’s administration. He also won a Pulitzer, in 1946, for “The Age of Jackson,” his landmark chronicle of Andrew Jackson’s administration.

“[He had] enormous stamina and a kind of energy and drive which most people don’t have, and it kept him going, all the way through his final hours,” Stephen Schlesinger said early yesterday. “He never stopped writing, he never stopped participating in public affairs, he never stopped having his views about politics and his love of this nation.”

He was a longtime confidant of the Kennedys, a fellow Harvard man who served in Mr. Kennedy’s administration and was often criticized for idealizing the family, especially for not mentioning the president’s extramarital affairs.

Liberalism declined in his lifetime to the point where politicians feared using the word, but Mr. Schlesinger’s opinions remained liberal, and influential.

“Arthur was a trusted friend and loyal adviser to President Kennedy, and a wonderful friend to me and to all of us in the Kennedy family,” said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat. “I will miss him terribly, but his contributions to this country will live on.”

A native of Columbus, Ohio, he was the son of a prominent historian. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy and in 1938 graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University. During World War II, Mr. Schlesinger drafted some statements for President Roosevelt and served as an intelligence analyst for the Office of Strategic Services, forerunner to the CIA.

Like many liberals of the 1940s, Mr. Schlesinger was also trying to reconcile support of the New Deal to the start of the Cold War. He responded by condemning both the far right and the far left, any system that denied the “perpetual tension” of a dynamic democracy.

In 1946, he helped found Americans for Democratic Action, a leading organization of anti-communist liberals. Three years later, he published the influential “The Vital Center,” which advocated a liberal domestic policy and anti-communist foreign policy.

President Kennedy appointed Mr. Schlesinger a special assistant, an unofficial “court philosopher” of symbolic, if not practical power. His time in government was brief. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, and the historian soon left the administration of his successor, Lyndon Johnson.

Mr. Schlesinger had six children — four from his first marriage, to the author Marian Cannon, and two from his second, to Alexandra Emmet.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide