By Neil Jumonville
Historian Henry Steele Commager (1902-1998) was once one of many best American intellectuals of the mid-twentieth century. writer or editor of greater than 40 books, he taught for many years at long island collage, Columbia college, and Amherst collage and was once a pioneer within the box of yankee reports. yet Commager's paintings used to be on no account restricted to the halls of the college: a well-liked essayist, lecturer, and political commentator, he earned a name as an activist for liberal factors and waged public campaigns opposed to McCarthyism within the Fifties and the Vietnam conflict within the Nineteen Sixties. As few were capable of do some time past half-century, Commager united the 2 worlds of scholarship and public highbrow activity.Through Commager's lifestyles and legacy, Neil Jumonville explores a couple of questions principal to the highbrow background of postwar the USA. After contemplating even if Commager and his affiliates have been fairly the conservative and conformist crew that critics have assumed them to be, Jumonville deals a reevaluation of the liberalism of the interval. eventually, he makes use of Commager's instance to invite no matter if highbrow lifestyles is actually suitable with scholarly existence.
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Additional info for Henry Steele Commager: Midcentury Liberalism and the History of the Present
Although it was hardly an irresponsible charge, several senators demanded that he be replaced. Secretary of State Cordell Hull agreed, remarking that Dodd was ‘‘somewhat insane’’ on subjects such as Je√ersonian democracy and world peace. ≥∂ During the mid-1920s Commager studied under Dodd and, when a graduate student, worked as his assistant. Although this was well before Dodd’s diplomatic adventure, Dodd was already an active civic participant and a proponent of historians’ public roles. Commager saw ﬁrsthand his professor’s contributions to public debate, was drawn to his activist example, and decided to fashion himself at least partly in his image.
For example, he wrote book reviews for the Chicago Evening Post and essays for the Nation. He looked to history for current lessons, and in his own work he found that captains of industry in the Progressive period were little di√erent from the greedy slave owners. His civic enthusiasm gradually turned him from scholarship to public a√airs. As a young professor in Virginia he fought the Virginia Democratic bosses, in 1908 wrote letters of campaign advice to William Jennings Bryan, later had dinner at the White House with Teddy Roosevelt, and made campaign speeches for Wilson in 1912.
S. history, and served as a major in the German army in World War I. Intrigued, Commager paid him t h e f o r m at i o n o f a p u b l i c i n t e l l e c t u a l [ 13 ] a call in Göttingen. The Darmstadter family liked him so well that he was invited to stay. So Commager remained there for the winter and most of the spring, working on his Struensee material, which he had carried with him, and taking a class from Darmstadter at the University of Göttingen. Commager usually functioned as a member of the Darmstadter family, carrying their bags of groceries home from shopping trips, ri∆ing through Darmstadter’s personal library of over twenty-ﬁve hundred volumes, or engaging his love of music by playing the work of Paderewski on the piano in his room.