Jon Meacham

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Jon Meacham
Photo of Jon Meacham
Jon Meacham, 2014
BornJon Ellis Meacham
(1969-05-20) May 20, 1969 (age 50)
Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S.
OccupationWriter, journalist, editor
ResidenceBelle Meade, Tennessee
Alma materThe University of the South
Notable awardsPulitzer Prize
Years active1991–present
SpouseMargaret Keith Smythe Meacham

Jon Ellis Meacham (/ˈməm/; born May 20, 1969) is a writer, reviewer, and presidential biographer. A former Executive Editor and Executive Vice President at Random House, he is a contributing writer to The New York Times Book Review, a contributing editor to Time magazine, and a former Editor-in-Chief of Newsweek. He is the author of several books. He won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography for American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. He holds the Carolyn T. and Robert M. Rogers Endowed Chair in American Presidency at Vanderbilt University.

Early life[edit]

Meacham was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee.[1] His parents are Jere Ellis Meacham (1946–2008), a construction and labor-relations executive who was decorated for valor during the Vietnam War,[2] and Linda (McBrayer) Brodie. His paternal grandparents, Ellis K. Meacham and Jean Austin Meacham,[3] raised him after his parents' divorce.[4] When he was a child, his grandfather had discussions each morning with a group of men about local and national politics. As a result, Meacham developed an interest in politics. He received an invitation to Ronald Reagan's 1981 inauguration in Washington, D.C. in response to a letter that he sent to the president-elect.[4]

He was educated at The McCallie School prep school,[1][a] where he developed an interest in the civil rights movement.[6] He earned a bachelor's degree from The University of the South in 1991.[1][7]


Journalist and editor[edit]

After college, he worked at The Chattanooga Times,[7] until he moved to Washington, D.C. in 1993 and became co-editor of Washington Monthly.[4] In 1995, he worked for Newsweek as the national affairs editor, and became Managing Editor in late-1998.[8][6][b] In 2006, he became Editor-in-Chief of Newsweek's print and online formats.[9]

A former Executive Editor and Executive Vice President at Random House,[10] he is a contributing writer to The New York Times Book Review and The Washington Post,[10] and a contributing editor to Time magazine.[11][c]

Historian and book author[edit]

He was the editor for Voices in Our Blood: America's Best on the Civil Rights Movement that was released in 2001. Spanning the period from 1941 to 1998, the book includes writings of noted civil-rights leaders, novelists, and journalists, like John Lewis, James Baldwin, William Faulkner, and David Halberstam.[6] His book, Franklin and Winston, Partners of an Intimate Relationship about Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, was released in 2003.[4]

Meacham has explored America's leaders in such works as Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power as well as his biography of Andrew Jackson, American Lion, which won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography.[9][13][a] Jill Abramson of The New York Times finds that Meacham's books are well-researched and contain a combination of current historical interpretations and anecdotal information, but captures the character of former presidents from a heroic perspective, despite their personal flaws. In his biography of Jefferson, Meacham identifies qualities that would be helpful in the current political arena, "Jefferson repeatedly reached out to his enemies and showed ideological flexibility." Regarding the former president's stance on slavery, Meacham states, "Slavery was the rare subject where Jefferson's sense of realism kept him from marshaling his sense of hope in the service of the cause of reform."[9]

Selected by the Bush family to be the official biographer for George H. W. Bush, Meacham's book, Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush, was published in 2015. He gave eulogies for both President Bush and Barbara Bush when they died in 2018.[14]


From May 2010 to April 2011, Meacham was co-host with Alison Stewart of Need to Know on PBS. He is also a frequent guest on MSNBC's Morning Joe and has appeared multiple times on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher.[15][16][17][18]

Meacham taught history at his alma mater, the University of the South, in 2014.[1] He was a visiting professor of political science at Vanderbilt University[19] before being appointed to the Carolyn T. and Robert M. Rogers Chair in American Presidency.[20]

Awards and honorary degrees[edit]

He won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography for American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House.[13] Meacham has been awarded honorary doctorates from several universities: Dickinson College and his alma mater, The University of the South D.Litt, in May 2010;[21][22][23] Loyola University New Orleans DHL on 12 May 2012;[24][25] Wake Forest University,[26] Middlebury College D.Litt on 28 May 2017. [27] and the University of Tennessee DHL in December 2017;[28] and the University of Massachusetts Lowell in 2018.[29] and Millsaps College on 11 May 2019.[30]

Personal life[edit]

As of 2014, Meacham resides in Belle Meade, Tennessee.[31] He married Margaret Keith Smythe, called Keith, in 1996.[3][6] At the time of their marriage, she was a teacher, having studied at University of Virginia and the University in Aix En Provence. She taught in Metz, France under a Fulbright Scholarship.[3] They have three children.[31]



  1. ^ a b He read Robert V. Remini's three-volume biography of Jackson while in high school. Remini read Meacham's biography of Jackson in manuscript.[5]
  2. ^ The Star-Herald reported that Meacham became Managing Editor after three months on the job.[4]
  3. ^ Meacham has been strongly critical of President Donald Trump; in a 2018 New York Times article, he compared Trump to the Rev. Charles Coughlin, a Catholic priest known for his passionate radio sermons sprinkled with antisemitism. Meacham also drew an unfavorable comparison of Trump's manner of speaking with the more eloquent styles of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d "Jon Meacham (C'91) returns to Sewanee as a history professor". The Sewanee Purple. February 15, 2014. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  2. ^ "Meacham, Jere Ellis". October 1, 2008. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "Smithe-Meacham engagement told". The Star-Herald. November 14, 1996. p. 24. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Journalist is topic for 21st Century Club". The Star-Herald. January 23, 2003. p. 18. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  5. ^ Yardley, William (April 5, 2013). "Robert Remini, Exhaustive Andrew Jackson Biographer, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d Cass, Michael (February 5, 2001). "Meacham: Success no surprise to peers". The Tennessean. p. 15. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "University of the South marks 150 years". The Tennessean. October 11, 2007. pp. B2. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  8. ^ Cass, Michael (February 5, 2001). "Sewanee grad scales magazine heights". The Tennessean. p. 14. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c Abramson, Jill (November 2, 2012). "Grand Bargainer". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Kelly, Matt (September 23, 2014). "'Art of Power' Author Jon Meacham to Speak on Jefferson". Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  11. ^ Adweek, November 11 2010 (September 9, 2011). "Jon Meacham Becomes Time Contributing Editor". Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  12. ^ Meacham, Jon (May 3, 2018). "Why Trump Is More Father Coughlin Than Franklin Roosevelt". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  13. ^ a b "The 2009 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Biography". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  14. ^ Tackett, Michael (December 4, 2018). "Jon Meacham, Bush's Biographer, Will Also Deliver a Eulogy". The New York Times. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  15. ^ "Joe: Donald Trump's hostile takeover of the Republican Party". MSNBC. March 2, 2016. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
  16. ^ "Meacham: Bush knew exactly what he was saying". MSNBC. November 6, 2015. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
  17. ^ Real Time with Bill Maher (January 22, 2016), Real Time with Bill Maher: Overtime – January 22, 2016 (HBO)
  18. ^ Real Time with Bill Maher (April 17, 2015), Real Time with Bill Maher: Overtime – April 17, 2015 (HBO)
  19. ^ Elliott, Stephen (September 4, 2019). "Haslam joining Vanderbilt faculty for leadership course". Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  20. ^ Submitted, Article (November 7, 2019). "Historian Goodwin Says Look to Past Presidents for Easing Current Political Divide". Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  21. ^ Gregg, Becca (May 23, 2010). "Dickinson College sends graduates into the world". The Sentinel. Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  22. ^ Mercer, Monica (May 16, 2010). "Sewanee honors Bush, Meacham". Chattanooga Times Free Press. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  23. ^ "Sewanee announces honorary degree recipients". Episcopal Church. May 13, 2010. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  24. ^ "Honorary Degrees". Loyola University New Orleans. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  25. ^ "Pulitzer Prize winner Jon Meacham to address Loyola's centennial class". Loyola University New Orleans. March 20, 2012. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  26. ^ "2017: Honorary degrees". Wake Forest University. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  27. ^ "Jon Meacham to Give Middlebury College Commencement Address". Middlebury College. April 6, 2017. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  28. ^ "Board of Trustees Approves Honorary Degree for Pulitzer Prize Writer Meacham". University of Tennessee. March 30, 2017. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  29. ^ "Pulitzer Winner, Congresswoman to Address Class of 2018". University of Massachusetts Lowell. May 18, 2018. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  30. ^ "Millsaps announces honorary degree recipients: Jon Meacham, Jesmyn Ward, Dr. Lamar Weems". Mississippi Today. May 2, 2019. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  31. ^ a b Reed, Julia (July 15, 2014). "House Tour: Is This The Chicest Home In Nashville?". Retrieved March 19, 2020.

External links[edit]