Commager, Henry Steele

Commager, Henry Steele

(kŏm`ĭjər), 1902–98, American historian, b. Pittsburgh, Pa. He received his Ph.D. from the Univ. of Chicago in 1928 and taught history at New York Univ. (1926–38), Columbia (1938–56), and Amherst (1956–94). He was an outspoken opponent of both McCarthyism (see McCarthy, Joseph RaymondMcCarthy, Joseph Raymond,
1908–57, U.S. senator from Wisconsin (1947–57), b. near Appleton, Wis. He practiced law in Wisconsin and became (1940) a circuit judge. He served with the U.S. marines in the Pacific in World War II, achieving the rank of captain.
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) and the Vietnam WarVietnam War,
conflict in Southeast Asia, primarily fought in South Vietnam between government forces aided by the United States and guerrilla forces aided by North Vietnam. The war began soon after the Geneva Conference provisionally divided (1954) Vietnam at 17° N lat.
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. His writings, often in collaboration with other historians, are extensive. Among them are The Growth of the American Republic (with Samuel E. MorisonMorison, Samuel Eliot,
1887–1976, American historian, b. Boston. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1912 and began teaching history there in 1915, becoming full professor in 1925 and Jonathan Trumbull professor of American history in 1941 before retiring in 1955.
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, 1930; 6th ed. 1969), The American Mind (1950), The American Character (1970), and Commager on Tocqueville (1993). Among the books he edited are Documents of American History (1934, 8th ed. 1968) and Readings in American History (with Allan Nevins, 1939).

Bibliography

See the biographical essays in Freedom and Reform, ed. by H. M. Hyman and L. W. Levy (1967).

Commager, Henry Steele

(1902–  ) historian; born in Pittsburgh, Pa. He was educated at the University of Chicago (Ph.D. 1928) and the Universities of Copenhagen, Cambridge, and Oxford. He taught at New York University (1926–38), Columbia University (1939–56), and Amherst College (1956). His best-known book, The Growth of the American Republic (1931), coauthored with Samuel Eliot Morison, remains a standard undergraduate text. Documents of American History (1934) marked the beginning of the editing and publishing of anthologies of source materials of the American historical record, for which Commager was a pioneer. He became a strong critic of 1950s anticommunist conformity, writing in Civil Liberties under Attack (1951), "The great danger that threatens us is neither heterodox nor orthodox thought, but the absence of thought." He continued to argue for free speech and enquiry during the Vietnam era, asserting that the idealism of the 1960s was a renaissance, not a repudiation, of American Revolutionary ideals. Unlike many of his professional colleagues, he also wrote for more popular media and often spoke out on contemporary issues. He was also noted for a lucid style that combined a keen critical viewpoint with an absence of cant and jargon.
References in periodicals archive ?
Commager, Henry Steele 1959 The American mind: An interpretation of American thought and character since the 1880's.