Douglas Freeman Bibliography Creator

Author, Historian, Pulitzer Prize Winner, Newspaper Editor. He is best known for his multi-volume biographies of Robert E. Lee and George Washington, for which he was awarded two Pulitzer Prizes. Born in Lynchburg, Virginia, his father was an insurance agent who had served four years in Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War and from childhood, he exhibited an interest in Southern history. In 1892 his family moved to Richmond, Virginia where he was awarded a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Richmond College in 1904. In 1908 he earned a Doctor of Philosophy in History at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Unable to secure a position in academia, he joined the newspaper staff of the Richmond Times-Dispatch in 1909 and six years later, he became editor of The Richmond News Leader, a position he held for 34 years. In 1911 he came into possession of a cache of long-lost wartime communications between Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis. He spent four years working on the documents and in 1915 he published his book "Lee's Dispatches to Jefferson Davis." The book was received enthusiastically by Civil War historians and became an important primary source for Civil War scholars. Following its success, he was approached by New York publisher Charles Scribner's Sons and invited to write a biography of Robert E. Lee. He accepted, but chose to retain his position at The Richmond News Leader and work longer days to work on the biography. His research of Lee was exhaustive, evaluating and cataloging every item about Lee, and reviewed records at West Point, the War Department, and material in private collections. In narrating the general's Civil War years, he used what came to be known as the "fog of war" technique-providing readers only the limited information that Lee himself had at a given moment, which helped to convey the confusion of war that Lee experienced, as well as the processes by which Lee grappled with problems and made decisions. "R. E. Lee: A Biography" was published in four volumes in 1934 and 1935 and he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1935 for this work. After completing his exhaustive studies of Lee, his generals, and the Confederate war effort, he began working on a biography of Continental Army General and US President George Washington. Applying the same approach that he undertook with writing Lee's biography, he completed the first two volumes, titled "Young Washington," in 1948. The following year, he retired from journalism in order to complete his monumental work on Washington. His works "George Washington Volume 3: Planter and Patriot" and "George Washington Volume 4: Leader of the Revolution" were published in 1951 and the following year, he published "George Washington Volume 5: Victory with the help of France". He completed work on "George Washington Volume 6: Patriot and President" just before he died; it was published after his death in 1954. In 1958 he was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his 6-volume "George Washington: A Biography" set. The concluding book, "George Washington Volume 7: First in Peace" (1957) was written by his associates John Alexander Carroll and Mary Wells Ashworth, based on Freeman's original research. In addition to his 40-year career in journalism, he became one of the first radio analysts in 1925 and his twice-daily radio broadcasts helped make him one of the most influential men in Virginia. From 1934 to 1941, he commuted weekly by air to New York City, New York to teach journalism at Columbia University. He also taught as a lecturer at the US Army War College for seven years, and served as Rector of the University of Richmond. He died from a heart attack at his home in Richmond, Virginia at the age of 67.

Author, Historian, Pulitzer Prize Winner, Newspaper Editor. He is best known for his multi-volume biographies of Robert E. Lee and George Washington, for which he was awarded two Pulitzer Prizes. Born in Lynchburg, Virginia, his father was an insurance agent who had served four years in Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War and from childhood, he exhibited an interest in Southern history. In 1892 his family moved to Richmond, Virginia where he was awarded a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Richmond College in 1904. In 1908 he earned a Doctor of Philosophy in History at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Unable to secure a position in academia, he joined the newspaper staff of the Richmond Times-Dispatch in 1909 and six years later, he became editor of The Richmond News Leader, a position he held for 34 years. In 1911 he came into possession of a cache of long-lost wartime communications between Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis. He spent four years working on the documents and in 1915 he published his book "Lee's Dispatches to Jefferson Davis." The book was received enthusiastically by Civil War historians and became an important primary source for Civil War scholars. Following its success, he was approached by New York publisher Charles Scribner's Sons and invited to write a biography of Robert E. Lee. He accepted, but chose to retain his position at The Richmond News Leader and work longer days to work on the biography. His research of Lee was exhaustive, evaluating and cataloging every item about Lee, and reviewed records at West Point, the War Department, and material in private collections. In narrating the general's Civil War years, he used what came to be known as the "fog of war" technique-providing readers only the limited information that Lee himself had at a given moment, which helped to convey the confusion of war that Lee experienced, as well as the processes by which Lee grappled with problems and made decisions. "R. E. Lee: A Biography" was published in four volumes in 1934 and 1935 and he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1935 for this work. After completing his exhaustive studies of Lee, his generals, and the Confederate war effort, he began working on a biography of Continental Army General and US President George Washington. Applying the same approach that he undertook with writing Lee's biography, he completed the first two volumes, titled "Young Washington," in 1948. The following year, he retired from journalism in order to complete his monumental work on Washington. His works "George Washington Volume 3: Planter and Patriot" and "George Washington Volume 4: Leader of the Revolution" were published in 1951 and the following year, he published "George Washington Volume 5: Victory with the help of France". He completed work on "George Washington Volume 6: Patriot and President" just before he died; it was published after his death in 1954. In 1958 he was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his 6-volume "George Washington: A Biography" set. The concluding book, "George Washington Volume 7: First in Peace" (1957) was written by his associates John Alexander Carroll and Mary Wells Ashworth, based on Freeman's original research. In addition to his 40-year career in journalism, he became one of the first radio analysts in 1925 and his twice-daily radio broadcasts helped make him one of the most influential men in Virginia. From 1934 to 1941, he commuted weekly by air to New York City, New York to teach journalism at Columbia University. He also taught as a lecturer at the US Army War College for seven years, and served as Rector of the University of Richmond. He died from a heart attack at his home in Richmond, Virginia at the age of 67.

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Bio by: William Bjornstad

Freeman was born on May 16, 1886, in , Virginia, to Bettie Allen Hamner and Walker Burford Freeman, an insurance agent who had served four years in Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. In 1892, the family moved to the former Confederate capital of , which was then at the height of a . Surrounded by a passionate discourse about the Civil War, Freeman developed an emotional and intellectual devotion to southern history and heritage. In Lynchburg, his family had lived down the street from the former Confederate general Jubal Early, whom Freeman would later describe as "snarling and stooped" and whom Freeman's daughter would say had inadvertently terrified the young Freeman. Nevertheless, Freeman's respect for men like Early would characterize his later scholarship.

Freeman studied first at Richmond College (now the ), receiving an AB degree in 1904, and then at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, where in 1908 he earned a doctorate in history with the goal of writing an account of Lee and his army. His first book, the bibliographic survey A Calendar of Confederate Papers, was published in 1908. Freeman attempted to get a job in academia, but in the end he joined the staff of the Richmond Times-Dispatch in 1909. He was briefly Secretary of the State Tax Commission, and in mid-1914, after the Times-Dispatch was sold, he hired on at the Richmond News Leader.

Then, in 1911, an acquaintance unexpectedly delivered to him a cache of long-lost wartime communications between Lee and Confederate president Jefferson Davis. Lee's Dispatches (1915) turned Freeman into an overnight sensation among Confederate historians and led to an invitation from the New York publisher Charles Scribner's Sons to write a biography of Lee. Rather than surrender any of his journalistic responsibilities—after an astounding rise, he became editor of the News Leader in 1915—Freeman instead worked longer days. He researched Lee exhaustively and narrated the general's Civil War years using what came to be known as the "fog of war" technique. By providing readers only the limited information that Lee himself had at a given moment, Freeman emphasized the confusion of war and the processes by which Lee grappled with problems and made decisions.

R. E. Lee appeared in four volumes in 1934–1935. The New York Times judged the work "Lee Complete for All Time," and Freeman was awarded the 1935 Pulitzer Prize for Biography. The work established the foundation for the "Virginia School" of Civil War scholarship, marked by an emphasis on the Eastern Theater of the war and an attention to generals at the expense of fighting men. Freeman's books also showed a preference for campaigns over social and political history and a sympathy for his Confederate subjects that was, perhaps, greater than that of many later historians. This has provoked some critics into labeling Freeman as a Lost Cause historian. There is no doubt that Freeman greatly admired Lee and his contemporaries. There is no doubt that he was partisan in his sympathies. The key difference, though, between Freeman and Jubal Early (and those of the Lost Cause school) is that Freeman's personal admiration did not impact his conclusions. There is not one significant statement of fact in R. E. Lee that has been successfully challenged by modern historians. Moreover, matters on which Freeman speculated have been confirmed by subsequently discovered documents. More than seventy years later, R. E. Lee remains the authoritative study on the Confederate general.

Freeman followed his biography of Lee with the critically acclaimed three-volume Lee's Lieutenants (1942–1944), a distinctive combination of military strategy, multiple biography, and Civil War history. This work established him as the nation's preeminent military historian and led to close friendships with U.S. generals George C. Marshall and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Freeman's literary achievements have overshadowed his career as editor of the News Leader. He wrote 600,000 words of editorial copy every year from 1915 until 1949, earning national acclaim for his analyses of military operations. His editorials expressed a moderate, albeit paternalistic, approach to race relations, and he was considered an opponent of the Byrd Organization, U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd Sr.'s powerful statewide Democratic political machine. He instituted the "Twenty fundamental rules of news writing," which directed his reporters to "above all, be clear." Freeman's editorial duties also included two daily radio newscasts.

Having completed his study of the Confederate war effort, Freeman turned to a biography of George Washington. He completed six volumes, a seventh was released after his death, and the entire work was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize. Freeman's other works include The South to Posterity: An Introduction to the Writings of Confederate History (1939) and Lee of Virginia (1958).

In addition to writing, Freeman also taught journalism at Columbia University in New York, conducted a weekly current-events class, and served as Rector of the University of Richmond. To meet his myriad obligations, he adopted a schedule that started his day well before dawn and scripted his every moment. Wise use of time, he said, made the difference "between drudgery and happiness, between existence and career."

Freeman retired from the News Leader in 1949 to complete Washington and start a study of World War II (1939–1945). He died of a heart attack on June 13, 1953, at his home, Westbourne. According to his obituary in the New York Times, he had been "up at his usual hour of 2:30" that morning "and made his daily radio commentary on the news at 8 a.m." He was buried in Richmond's .

Major Works

  • A Calendar of Confederate Paper (1908)
  • Lee's Dispatches to Jefferson Davis, 1862–1865 (1915)
  • R. E. Lee (4 volumes, 1934–35)
  • The South to Posterity: An Introduction to the Writing of Confederate History (1939)
  • Manassas to Malvern Hill, volume 1 of Lee's Lieutenants: A Study in Command (1942)
  • Cedar Mountain to Chancellorsville (volume 2 of Lee's Lieutenants: A Study in Command, 1943)
  • Gettysburg to Appomattox (volume 3 of Lee's Lieutenants: A Study in Command, 1944)
  • Young Washington (volumes 1 and 2 of George Washington: A Biography, 1948)
  • Planter and Patriot (volume 3 of George Washington: A Biography, 1951)
  • Leader of the Revolution (volume 4 of George Washington: A Biography, 1951)
  • Victory with the Help of France (volume 5 of George Washington: A Biography, 1952)
  • Patriot and President (volume 6 of George Washington: A Biography, 1954)
  • First in Peace (by John Alexander Carroll and Mary Wells Ashworth, based on Freeman's research, Volume 7 of George Washington: A Biography, 1957)

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