Award-Winning Jacksonian Books

While writing two historiographical essays on the Jackson period recently, I was struck by the number of those books that had won major literary prizes. To illustrate the recognition given to the period’s scholarship, below is a list of major awards bestowed on Jacksonian-era books.

Pulitzer Prizes in Biography or Autobiography:

2009: American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham

1951: John C. Calhoun: American Portrait by Margaret Louise Coit

1950: John Quincy Adams and the Foundations of American Foreign Policy by Samuel Flagg Bemis

1944: The American Leonardo: The Life of Samuel F B. Morse by Carleton Mabee

1938: Andrew Jackson, 2 vols. by Marquis James

1930: The Raven by Marquis James

1920: The Life of John Marshall, 4 vols. by Albert J. Beveridge

Pulitzer Prizes in History:

2009: The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed

2008: What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe

1975: Jefferson and His Time, Vols. I-V by Dumas Malone

1953: The Era of Good Feelings by George Dangerfield

1946: The Age of Jackson by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

Bancroft Prizes:

2006 The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln by Sean Wilentz

2005 Conjectures of Order: Intellectual Life and the American South, 1810–1860 (Two volumes) by Michael O’Brien

1985: The Free Women of Petersburg: Status and Culture in a Southern Town, 1784-1860 by Suzanne Lebsock

1975: Roll, Jordan, Roll by Eugene Genovese

1967: Prelude to Civil War: The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816-1836 by William W. Freehling; James K. Polk, Continentalist, 1843-1846, Volume II by Charles Sellers; The Washington Community, 1800-1828 by James Sterling Young.

1964: The Liberator: William Lloyd Garrison by John L. Thomas

1961: The Jefferson Image in the American Mind by Merrill D. Peterson

1954: The Jacksonians by Leonard D. White

1953: The Era of Good Feelings by George Dangerfield

National Book Awards

1984: Andrew Jackson & the Course of American Democracy, 1833-1845 by Robert V. Remini

1997: American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson by Joseph J. Ellis

2008: The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed

N.B.: I’m defining the Jacksonian period as 1815-1845, a chronological period that covers the decades from the Battle of New Orleans to Jackson’s death. One could certainly argue over the years or even the idea of a period named for Jackson, as Daniel Walker Howe has. One finds even more volumes included if the chronological designation of the Early Republic (1776-1861) is used. I also left out some broader syntheses that only touch on a small part of the Jacksonian period.

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