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Jon Meacham
Photo: © Heidi Ross

Jon Meacham

Jon Meacham holds the Carolyn T. and Robert M. Rogers Chair in the American Presidency at Vanderbilt University, where he is also a distinguished visiting professor and co-chairs the Vanderbilt Project on Unity & Democracy. A biographer and contributing editor at Time, he lectures widely in the United States on history, politics, and religious faith, and is the Canon Historian of Washington National Cathedral. In 2020, Meacham was a visiting lecturer at American Baptist College in Nashville, Tennessee.

He is the author of numerous New York Times bestsellers, including His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope; The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels; The Hope of Glory: Reflections on the Last Words of Jesus from the Cross; Songs of America: Patriotism, Protest, and the Music That Made a Nation (with Tim McGraw); Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush; Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power; American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation; Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship. He is the editor of two volumes: Voices in Our Blood: America’s Best on the Civil Rights Movement and In the Hands of the People, an anthology of Thomas Jefferson’s writings.

Meacham’s  And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle was published in October 2022. It spent 16 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and has been honored with the Richard Nelson Current Award of the Lincoln Forum; the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize (a co-winner with Jonathan W. White’s A House Built by Slaves); the Barondess/Lincoln Award of the Civil War Roundtable of New York; the Annual Award of Achievement of the Lincoln Group of New York; and the 2023 Abraham Lincoln Institute Book Award.

Meacham’s American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 2009; the book was cited as an “unlikely portrait of a not always admirable democrat, but a pivotal president, written with an agile prose that brings the Jackson saga to life.” 

A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and of the Society of American Historians, Meacham has written for The New York TimesThe Washington PostVanity Fair, and Garden & Gun. Meacham is also a regular guest on “Morning Joe” and other broadcasts.

Meacham’s biography of President Bush was named one of the ten best books of the year by The Washington Post and one of the best books of the year by The New York Times Book ReviewTime, National Public Radio, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Destiny and Power was also honored for excellence in “Politics and Leadership” in 2015 by the Plutarch Committee of BIO, the Biographers International Organization.

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power received the 2013 Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award from the Fraunces Tavern Museum and the Sons of the American Revolution in the State of New York, a prize that “recognizes books of exceptional merit written on the Revolutionary War era.” Franklin and Winston was honored with the Colby Award of the William E. Colby Military Writers’ Symposium at Norwich University. Meacham was also honored with the 2015 Nashville Public Library Literary Award; other winners include John Lewis, Robert K. Massie, Margaret Atwood, John McPhee, Billy Collins, Doris Kearns Goodwin, John Irving, Ann Patchett, John Updike, David McCullough, and David Halberstam.

A former executive editor at Random House, he published the letters of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and books by, among others, Al Gore, John Danforth, Mary Soames, and Charles Peters. After serving as Managing Editor of Newsweek for eight years, Meacham was the Editor of the magazine from 2006 to 2010. He is a former editor of The Washington Monthly and began his career at The Chattanooga Times.

Born in Chattanooga in 1969, Meacham was educated at St. Nicholas School, The McCallie School, and graduated in 1991 from The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, with a degree summa cum laude in English Literature; he was salutatorian and elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

He has served as a trustee of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, whose board he chaired, of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, of The New-York Historical Society, of The McCallie School, and of The Harpeth Hall School. Meacham chaired the National Advisory Council of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University. He has served on the vestries of St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue and of Trinity Church Wall Street as well as the Board of Trustees and the Board of Regents of The University of the South. The Anti-Defamation League awarded Meacham its Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Prize. In 2013 the Historical Society of Pennsylvania presented him with its Founder’s Award; in 2016 he was honored with the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute’s Spirit of Democracy Award; in 2017 he was made a Churchill Fellow of Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, in services at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin. In 2021, the National Archives awarded Meacham its Records of Achievement Award; in 2022, he was honored, with Annette Gordon-Reed, with the Aspen Institute’s Public Service Award. Meacham also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University in 2005 and holds honorary doctorates from Williams College, Middlebury College, Wake Forest University, the University of Tennessee, Dickinson College, Sewanee, Loyola New Orleans, Loyola Baltimore, Millsaps College, and several other institutions.

He lives in Nashville and in Sewanee with his wife and children.

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