Samuel Eliot Morison
Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American
History, Emeritus * Rear Admiral, United States
Naval Reserve, Retired * Still A Most Active
Historian And Sailor
Few Bostonians live today in the house where they were born seventy-six years ago, or have sailed so far between then and now. Few men anywhere have advanced from private of infantry to rear admiral in the service of their country, and even fewer professors of history have reached the latter rank from civilian life. One Boy's Boston carries Samuel Eliot Morison's autobiography only from 1887 to 1901, yet the tastes and enthusiasms of his last sixty-three years can be deduced from the formidable list of his other writings. In his twenties he transformed the papers of his Federalist ancestor, Harrison Gray Otis, into a brilliant biography. His passion for the sea, first revealed in The Maritime History of Massachusetts, led him to become thebiographer of Christopher Columbus and the Historian of the United States Naval Operations in World War II. His devotion to Harvard, where he taught for forty years, with time out only for two wars, an Oxford interlude, and cruising in the wake of Columbus, caused him to become it Trecentenary Historian. Three years as Harold Vyvyan Harmsworth Professor of American History in the University of Oxford in the twenties inspired the Oxford History of the United States, the most readable work of its kind yet written. He deals with equal mastery with William Bradford, John Paul Jones, and Francis Parkman; with Portugueses voyages in the fifteenth century, Boston Puritans in the seventeenth, Plymouth ropemakers in the nineteenth, and naval strategy in the twentieth, in a litery style that is unrivalled. It is small wonder that the Balzan Foundation, when it wished to award in history something comparable in distinction to a Noble prize in the sciences, chose from the entire world Samuel Eliot Morison as the first recipient.
Walter Muir Whitehill
Printed for Leavitt & Pierce * Cambridge * By the Stinehour Press * April 1964