Remini, Robert V. 1921–
Remini, Robert V. 1921–
(Robert Vincent Remini)
PERSONAL: Born July 17, 1921; son of William Francis and Lauretta Remini; married Ruth T. Kuhner, 1948; children: Elizabeth Mary, Joan Marie, Robert William. Education: Fordham University, B.S., 1943; Columbia University, M.A., 1947, Ph.D., 1951. Hobbies and other interests: Travel, music, gardening.
ADDRESSES: Office—Department of History, University of Illinois at Chicago, Box 4348, Chicago, IL 60680. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer, historian, educator, editor, and lecturer. Fordham University, New York, NY, instructor, 1947–51, assistant professor, 1951–59, associate profes-sor of American history, 1959–65; University of Illinois at Chicago, professor of history, 1965–91, research professor of humanities, 1985–91, professor of history emeritus and research professor of humanities emeritus, 1991–, chair of department, 1965–66 and 1967–71, director of Institute for the Humanities, 1981–87. Jilin University of Technology, China, professor, 1986; Douglas Southall Freeman Professor of History, University of Richmond, 1992; University of Notre Dame, professor, 1995–96; Wofford College, professor, 1998; Visiting lecturer, Columbia University, 1959–60. Distinguished visiting scholar, John W. Kluge Center for Scholars, U.S. Library of Congress, 2002. Historian of the United States House of Representatives, 2005–. Military service: U.S. Navy, 1943–46; became lieutenant.
MEMBER: American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, American Association of University Professors, Society of American Historians, Southern Historical Association, Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels.
AWARDS, HONORS: Grant-in-aid, American Council of Learned Societies, 1960, and American Philosophical Society, 1964; Encaenia Award, Fordham University, 1963; Friends of American Writers Award of Merit, 1977; Huntington Library fellowship, 1978; Guggenheim fellow, 1978–79; National Book Award in nonfiction, 1984, for Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 1833–1845; Friends of Literature Award, 1985; University Scholar Award, University of Illinois, 1986; Carl Sandburg Award, 1989, for The Life of Andrew Jackson; Society of Midland Authors Award, 1992, for Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union; commissioned Kentucky Colonel by governor of Kentucky, 1992; commissioned aide-de-camp and Tennessee Colonel by governor of Tennessee, 1992; Heroes of History lecturer, National Endowment for the Humanities, 2003; Freedom Award, U.S. Capital Historical Society, 2004; Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation Award; Award for Scholarly Distinction, American Historical Association. Honorary degrees from Governor's State University, Eastern Kentucky University, and Fordham University.
The Election of Andrew Jackson, Lippincott (Philadelphia, PA), 1963.
(Editor and author of introduction and notes) Dixon Ryan Fox, The Decline of Aristocracy in the Politics of New York, 1801–1840, Harper (New York, NY), 1965.
Andrew Jackson (biography), Twayne (New York, NY), 1966.
(Editor and author of introduction and notes) James Parton, The Presidency of Andrew Jackson, Harper (New York, NY), 1966.
Andrew Jackson and the Bank War: A Study in the Growth of Presidential Power, Norton (New York, NY), 1968.
(Editor) The Age of Jackson, University of South Carolina Press (Columbia, SC), 1972.
(With James I. Clark) Freedom's Frontiers: The Story of the American People, Benzinger (Beverly Hills, CA), 1975.
(With James I. Clark) We the People: A History of the United States, Glencoe (Beverly Hills, CA), 1975.
The Revolutionary Age of Andrew Jackson, Harper (New York, NY), 1977.
(Compiler, with Edwin A. Miles) The Era of Good Feelings and the Age of Jackson, AHM (Arlington Heights, IL), 1979.
The Legacy of Andrew Jackson: Essays in Democracy, Indian Removal and Slavery, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1988.
The Jacksonian Era, Harlan Davidson (Arlington Heights, IL), 1989, 2nd edition, 1997.
(With Robert O. Rupp) Andrew Jackson: A Bibliography, Meckler (Westport, CT), 1991.
Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union, Norton (New York, NY), 1991.
(Author of historical overview) Sara Day, editor, Gathering History: The Marian S. Carson Collection of Americana, Library of Congress (Washington, DC), 1999.
The Battle of New Orleans: Andrew Jackson and America's First Military Victory, Viking (New York, NY), 1999.
Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars, Viking (New York, NY), 2001.
John Quincy Adams, Times Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Joseph Smith, Viking (New York, NY), 2002.
The House: The History of the House of Representatives, Smithsonian Books/HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to History of American Presidential Elections, 1789–1968, Volume 1, edited by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and Fred L. Israel, McGraw (New York, NY), 1971; and to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Contributor to professional journals. Member of editorial board, Journal of American History, 1969–72; consulting editor, The Papers of Andrew Jackson; special editor, Crowell-Collier Educational Corp.
"ANDREW JACKSON AND THE COURSE OF …" BIOGRAPHY SERIES
Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Empire, 1767–1821, Harper (New York, NY), 1977.
Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Freedom, 1822–1832, Harper (New York, NY), 1981.
Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 1833–1845, Harper (New York, NY), 1984.
The Life of Andrew Jackson (contains Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Empire, 1767–1821, Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Freedom, 1822–1832, and Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 1833–1845), Harper (New York, NY), 1988, published as Andrew Jackson, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 1998.
SIDELIGHTS: Robert V. Remini is an "eminent political historian," declared Forrest McDonald in a National Review assessment of Daniel Webster: The Man and His Time. Remini's biography of Webster, also published as Daniel Webster: A Conservative in a Democratic Age, gives a "meaningful [definition] of and [correlation] between [Webster's] private and public [life]," maintained Brad Hooper in a Booklist review. Although "magnificently impressed with [Webster's] importance in U.S. history," Remini—a "consummate professional biographer"according to Hooper—"does not negate nor even downplay the great orator's defects of character and less-than-noble traits."
"In his personal affairs, Webster was far from a paragon," remarked McDonald, describing Webster as a dishonest friend and "an inveterate womanizer," as well as "a heavy boozer" and a man, though relatively wealthy, who spent well beyond his means and failed to repay his debts. "But there was another Webster, whom Remini describes perceptively, who was known to conservatives in New England as the 'God-like Daniel,' a great man who served his country well in several capacities," wrote McDonald, highlighting Webster's role as "a constitutional lawyer, … a leader in the Senate, … [and] Secretary of State." Webster's "achievements as statesman, however, were overshadowed by his accomplishments as orator. His voice was a natural gift," related McDonald. "Revered but distrusted, Webster was, to Remini, the victim of his duality," related a Publishers Weekly reviewer, who recognized that Remini is "admiring, but [thorough in] his coverage" of Webster.
Though he has penned a well-received biography of Webster, and has also written a widely reviewed biography of Henry Clay, Remini is often recognized most for his works focusing on Andrew Jackson. Among Remini's many books on Jackson is The Battle of New Orleans: Andrew Jackson and America's First Military Victory. Remini, noted a Publishers Weekly contributor, is "a master of historical narrative" with "impeccable scholarship and lively pen." Compared to his previous biographical works on Jackson, The Battle of New Orleans offers a more "popular" presentation of history, according to Gilbert Taylor in Booklist. Library Journal contributor Thomas H. Ferrell gave high recommendations to the text as "a well-documented and highly readable narrative history." In his portrait of the 1815 battle between British and American troops, "Remini certainly makes his case that the Battle of New Orleans helped shape what we now understand as the American character," observed Kingston Pierce in American History. Pierce was impressed with The Battle of New Orleans, but wished that Remini "put more effort [into] fleshing out lower-level combatants." Nevertheless, Pierce praised the author for vividly recreating the conflict. Remini "brings the exciting story to life" and explains its larger historical significance, according to the Publishers Weekly reviewer. The book is "a topnotch rendition from a practiced historical hand," determined Taylor.
Remini's authoritative three-volume biography consisting of Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Empire, 1767–1821, Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Freedom, 1822–1832, and Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 1833–1845, chronicles the political, personal, and military career of the seventh president of the United States. Jackson had a colorful life story. Born on the frontier, he became famous for fighting the Indians, then overcame physical ailments to become president of the United States. Jackson was a founder of the Democratic Party, and his eradication of corruption in government and expansion of U.S. borders, along with his firm conviction that a democracy should be ruled by the people, have made him one of the most famous of American presidents.
Though Jackson was a very important president, "few modern historians have treated [his] career in detail," wrote John A. Garraty in the New York Times Book Review. Remini is one of the exceptions. Charles Kaiser commented in Newsweek that Remini manages to combine "scholarly research with a flair for popular biography to produce a wonderfully readable account." Garraty concluded that Remini "has produced a wonderful portrait, rich in detail, of a fascinating and important man and an authoritative, if somewhat partisan, account of his role in American history." The third of Remini's biographies, Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 1833–1845, won the National Book Award in 1984.
Remini added another volume to his exhaustive career-long study of Jackson with Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars. Here, the author examines the dual characterizations of Jackson that have informed his interactions with the Native Americans of his day. On the one hand, Jackson has been seen as a mighty figure, a military hero who was a tireless advocate for common citizens. Conversely, he has also been portrayed as a vicious oppressor of Native Americans because his policies and heavy-handed actions led to the devastation of the Cherokee, the Seminole, and other Southeastern tribes through the Indian Removal Act. "As Robert V. Remini shows in his tightly crafted Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars, both characterizations are on the mark," observed a reviewer in Business Week. Jackson was a former Indian fighter who had earned the respect of those tribes he had fought against. He even adopted a Native American boy and raised the child as his own son. As Jackson grew in prominence, Remini notes, he began to believe that the only way for the Indian tribes to survive, and for white settlers to continue to populate the western territories, was for Native Americans to move farther west, outside the reach and influence of steadily encroaching white communities and culture. The inexorable white migration west, Jackson reasoned, would result in the destruction of the Indian tribes by absorption into the white population or by violent death as the settlers fought for land and resources. This attitude formed the basis of Jackson's endorsement of the Indian Removal Act and the forced removal and march west, known as the Trail of Tears, of some 18,000 Cherokee. It was a bungled and disgraceful operation, Remini writes, that led to the death of as many as 8,000 tribe members. Despite the harshness of the situation, Remini concludes that Jackson probably saved the Five Civilized Tribes—the Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Seminole—from being wiped out of existence. "Remini has not offered the last word on this tragic history," commented M. Philip Lucas in the Historian. "He does, however, outline the difficult issues future historians must candidly confront."
In John Quincy Adams, Remini presents a concise biography of America's sixth president. The author "paints an admiring portrait of an extraordinary man," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Downplaying personal troubles in Adams's private life that have led to his being considered a failure by many scholars, Remini instead concentrates on Adams's nearly five-decade political career and its numerous successes. Remini considers Adams the nation's greatest secretary of state and the primary influence behind the well-known Monroe Doctrine. He served as president during years of great political confusion, yet enjoyed repeated triumphs in many areas, such as the advancement of the Free Soil movement that ultimately contributed to the downfall of slavery. Adams was the steward and protector of the bequest that would form the foundation of the Smithsonian Institution; he was also a famous legal defender of the slaves who revolted on the ship Amistad. "No one who reads this fine, short study will fail to place Adams in the pantheon of Great Neglected Americans," concluded the Publishers Weekly critic.
Remini turns his attention to a prominent religious leader—the founder of the Mormon Church—with Joseph Smith. The Mormon Church arose during the Jacksonian era, and Remini mines his thorough knowledge of the Age of Jackson to explore the social, cultural, political, and economic context in which Joseph Smith lived and founded his religion. Remini "strikes a middle ground between Smith the voice of God and Smith the charlatan" in a "highly engaging biography," stated Library Journal reviewer Daniel Liestman. "Typically capable and lucid: Remini's analysis is sure to excite controversy among those who view Smith in a different light," concluded a Kirkus Reviews critic. Booklist reviewer Gilbert Taylor called the book "a masterful, evenhanded precis that will engross history and religion readers alike," while a Publishers Weekly writer named it "noteworthy for its balanced tone and thorough scholarship." Reviewer Jeff Needle, writing on the Association for Mormon Letters Web site, remarked that "Remini offers a very readable, and entertaining, overview of the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith, plac-ing it firmly in the environment of early America." Remini, Needle observed, "takes a middle road between faith and doubt, between faithful acceptance of the prophetic role of Joseph and dismissal of the supernatural nature of the Prophet and the Church." Needle concluded that "the non-Mormon reader will find here a comprehensive, and fair, treatment of the Joseph Smith story. And Mormons will find herein a nicely executed study of the cultural, religious and historical context of the beginnings of Mormonism."
With The House: The History of the House of Representatives Remini presents a condensed version of the two-century history of the House and the more than 11,750 members who have served there. He presents explanations of how the House of Representatives functions and offers background material on some of the more prominent members who have served over the years. Taylor, writing again in Booklist, commented that the book is "nonpartisan, civic-minded, and deserving of every library's consideration." A Publishers Weekly reviewer observed that "this tome is highly readable though encyclopedic." Library Journal contributor Michael O. Eshleman observed that the sheer depth of the House's history required a shallow presentation, but that "the book does fill a need" for those seeking background on this area of U.S. government.
Remini has received many awards for his work as a historian, and in 2005 he was honored again when he was appointed the official historian of the U.S. House of Representatives.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
America, January 23, 1982, Francis Paul Prucha, review of Andrew Jackson and the Course of America Freedom, 1822–1832, p. 59; November 17, 1984, Francis Paul Prucha, review of Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 1833–1845, p. 325.
American Historical Review, December, 1989, Edward Pessen, review of The Legacy of Andrew Jackson: Essays in Democracy, Indian Removal and Slavery, p. 1465; October, 1992, Joel H. Silbey, review of Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union, p. 1283.
American History, February, 2000, Kingston Pierce, review of The Battle of New Orleans: Andrew Jackson and America's First Military Victory, p. 66.
American Spectator, February, 1992, Paul Johnson, review of Henry Clay, p. 54.
Booklist, October 1, 1997, Brad Hooper, review of Daniel Webster: A Conservative in a Democratic Age, p. 305; August, 1999, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Battle of New Orleans, p. 2018; September 1, 2002, Gilbert Taylor, review of Joseph Smith, p. 23; April 15, 2006, Gilbert Taylor, review of The House: The History of the House of Representatives, p. 24.
Books & Culture, July-August, 2002, Kenneth Moore Startup, "Red, White, and Gray: Andrew Jackson and Indian Removel," review of Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars, p. 21.
Business Week, September 24, 2001, "Friend or Foe?," review of Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars, p. 20E6.
First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, May, 2003, review of Joseph Smith, p. 75.
Historian, spring, 2003, M. Philip Lucas, review of Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars, p. 731.
History: Review of New Books, fall, 2003, John Mosher, review of Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars, p. 9.
Journal of American History, March, 1985, Charles Sellers, Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 1833–1845, p. 864; June, 1989, Richard B. Latner, review of The Legacy of Andrew Jackson, p. 254; September, 1989, Joel H. Silbey, review of The Life of Andrew Jackson, p. 595; September, 1992, Richard B. Latner, review of Henry Clay, p. 651; September, 1998, Maurice Baxter, review of Daniel Webster: The Man and His Time, p. 684.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2002, review of Joseph Smith, p. 1204.
Library Journal, July, 1981, review of Andrew Jackson and the Course of America Freedom, 1822–1832, p. 1412; May 1, 1984, review of Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 1833–1845, p. 894; August, 1991, Charles C. Hay III, review of Henry Clay, p. 112; November 1, 1997, F. Buckallew, review of Daniel Webster, p. 84; July, 1999, Thomas H. Ferrell, review of The Battle of New Orleans, p. 112; August, 2002, Charles K. Piehl, review of John Quincy Adams, p. 110; November 1, 2002, Daniel Liestman, review of Joseph Smith, p. 100; May 1, 2006, Michael O. Eshleman, review of The House, p. 103.
National Review, November 10, 1997, Forrest McDonald, review of Daniel Webster, p. 58.
Newsweek, August 17, 1981, Charles Kaiser, review of Andrew Jackson and the Course of America Freedom, 1822–1832, p. 73.
New Yorker, August 24, 1981, review of Andrew Jackson and the Course of America Freedom, 1822–1832, p. 101; August 6, 1984, Naomi Bliven, review of Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 1833–1845, p. 92.
New York Times, October 28, 1984, John Arthur Garraty, review of Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 1833–1845, p. 33.
New York Times Book Review, October 28, 1984, John A. Garraty, review of Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 1833–1845, p. 33; October 27, 1991, George F. Will, review of Henry Clay, p. 9; December 19, 1999, Carlo D'Este, "Down the Mighty Mississippi: The Battle of New Orleans Was America's First Military Victory," p. 13
Publishers Weekly, April 13, 1984, review of Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 1833–1845, p. 58; November 30, 1984, Madalynne Reuter, "Book World Warmly Celebrates TABA Winners," p. 27; August 2, 1985, "American Book Awards Announces 1985 Judges," p. 16; July 1, 1988, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of The Life of Andrew Jackson, p. 62; August 16, 1991, review of Henry Clay, p. 44; September 15, 1997, review of Daniel Webster, p. 57; July 12, 1999, review of The Battle of New Orleans, p. 82; June 10, 2002, review of John Quincy Adams, p. 49; September 30, 2002, review of Joseph Smith, p. 67; March 27, 2006, review of The House, p. 70.
School Library Journal, February, 2000, Pam Johnson, review of The Battle of New Orleans, p. 145.
Wilson Library Bulletin, January, 1985, McGrath, "American Book Awards Given to Three Writers," p. 332.
World and I, December, 2001, Edward S. Shapiro, "Jackson and the 'Savages' of America: Was Jackson an Unwitting Benefactor of the Indians?," review of Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars, p. 244.
Association for Mormon Letters Online, http://www.aml-online.org/ (September 1, 2006), Jeff Needle, review of Joseph Smith.
HarperCollins Web site, http://www.harpercollins.com/ (September 1, 2006), biography of Robert V. Remini.
History News Network Web site, http://hnn.us/ (September 1, 2006), biography of Robert V. Remini.
National Endowment for the Humanities Web site, http://www.neh.gov/ (September 1, 2006), biography of Robert V. Remini.