Judson Welliver

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Judson C. Welliver
Judson Welliver2.jpg
Born (1870-08-13)August 13, 1870
Aledo, Illinois
Died April 14, 1943(1943-04-14) (aged 72)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Nationality American
Occupation Newspaper journalist, presidential speechwriter
Known for Widely regarded as the first presidential speechwriter

Judson Churchill Welliver (August 13, 1870 – April 14, 1943)[note 1] was a "literary clerk" to President Warren G. Harding and is usually credited as being the first presidential speechwriter.[1][note 2]


Judson Welliver was born on August 13, 1870 in Aledo, Illinois.[2][3]

He married his wife, Jane Douglas Hutchins, on July 3, 1899. They had four children—Edward M., Allan J., Sarah H., and Jane Douglas.[4]

By 1909, Welliver had earned a reputation as "one of the most able journalists in the country".[3] He worked variously at the Fort Dodge Messenger, the Sioux City Journal, and the Des Moines Leader before becoming the editor of the Sioux City Tribune, a position which he held until 1904.[3] That year, Wellington joined the staff of the Washington Times, where he was noted for his support of the Progressives.[3] He wrote articles for McClure's Magazine and Hampton's during the muckraker period.[5]

He was sent to Europe by President Roosevelt in 1907 to report on the waterway and railroad systems of Europe and Great Britain.[4] (The report was published in 1908.) He managed London correspondence and European news for the New York Sun from 1917 until 1918.[4]

Welliver handled publicity for Harding during his 1920 presidential campaign, and began working as a "literary clerk" to President Harding on March 4, 1921.[1][4] Welliver left his speech-writing position at the White House on November 1, 1925 (under the presidency of Calvin Coolidge), accepting a position at the American Petroleum Institute for a better salary.[4][6] After he resigned from the American Petroleum job in 1927, Welliver went on to become editor of the Washington Herald in 1928.[4] He was also assistant to the president of the Pullman Company from 1928 to 1931.[4]

Welliver died of cancer in Philadelphia on April 14, 1943,[4] at the age of 72.[7]

The Judson Welliver Society, a bipartisan social club composed of former presidential speechwriters, is named in his honor.[2]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Welliver's middle initial is sometimes erroneously given as "T".
  2. ^ It is argued by some that Alexander Hamilton was the first presidential speechwriter since he wrote some material for George Washington, but Hamilton was a cabinet member rather than a person hired expressly for the job of writing speeches.[2]
  1. ^ a b Donaldson-Evans, Catherine (May 12, 2005). "Different Writer, Same President". Fox News. Retrieved December 24, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c Hertzberg, Hendrik (2004). "In Praise of Judson Welliver". Politics: Observations & Arguments, 1966–2004. New York City: Penguin Press. pp. 106–107. ISBN 978-1-101-20092-6. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Writers and Their Work". Hampton's Magazine. New York City. 23 (5): 725–726. November 1909. Retrieved December 24, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Who's Who in America" (PDF). Retrieved December 24, 2010. 
  5. ^ Weinberg, Arthur and Lila (1964). The Muckrakers. New York: Capricorn Books. p. 443. 
  6. ^ "THE PRESIDENCY: Mr. Coolidge's Week: Nov. 2, 1925". Time. November 2, 1925. Retrieved December 24, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Milestones, Apr. 26, 1943". Time. April 26, 1943. Retrieved December 24, 2010. 

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