Charles Edward Merriam, Jr

Charles Edward Merriam, Jr

Hopkinton, Delaware County, Iowa, USA
Death 8 Jan 1953 (aged 78)
Rockville, Montgomery County, Maryland, USA
Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Plot Sec: 3, Site: 3889-A
Memorial ID 49259963 · View Source
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Charles Edward Merriam, Jr. was a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, founder of the behavioralistic approach to political science, a prominent intellectual in the Progressive Movement, and an advisor to several U.S. Presidents. Upon his death, The New York Times called him "one of the outstanding political scientists in the country."

He graduated from Lenox College in Iowa in 1893, taught school for a year, and then returned to college to receive his Bachelor of Laws from the University of Iowa in 1895. He received his masters degree in 1897 and doctorate in 1900 from Columbia University. He studied at the University of Paris and the University of Berlin in 1899 while completing his Ph.D. Among his mentors from whom he adopted much of his early political thought were Frank Johnson Goodnow, Otto von Gierke, and James Harvey Robinson.

During World War I, the 43-year-old Merriam joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps, was commissioned a captain, and served on the federal government's Aviation Examining Board for the Chicago region. He was also on the federal government's Committee on Public Information, an independent government agency created to influence U.S. public opinion and encourage American participation in World War I. From April to September 1918, he was American High Commissioner for Public Information in Rome, Italy, where he developed propaganda designed to sway Italian public opinion.

In 1923, back in the U.S., he co-founded the Local Community Research Committee (LCRC) with money from the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Foundation, a research institute dedicated to promoting research, collecting data on urban problems, and disseminating current policy ideas. Also in 1923, he helped organize the Social Science Research Council (an outgrowth of the LCRC) with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, and served as its first president in 1924. In 1929, he co-founded (again, with a grant from the Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Foundation) the Public Administration Clearing House, an umbrella group which fostered collaboration and communication among associations in the field of public administration.

Merriam served as president of the American Political Science Association in 1925. That same year, he authored the book New Aspects of Politics, which called for marshalling the resources of political science research in a search for solutions to pressing social issues.

Merriam returned to government service in 1929, serving as vice chairman on President Herbert Hoover's President's Research Committee On Social Trends (PRCST). A landmark federal research initiative into demographics and emerging social issues, the PRCST "altered the direction and use of social science research in the United States."

His relationship with Harold Ickes allowed him to continue his service in the nation's capital under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. During the Great Depression, he was considered the country's most influential political scientist. In July 1933, Harold Ickes (now United States Secretary of the Interior) appointed Merriam to serve on the National Planning Board (and its successors, the National Resources Board and the National Resources Planning Board). Merriam was the body's most influential member. In this capacity, he helped draft proposals for an expansive welfare state. Although President Roosevelt approved of the plans and proposed implementing them in his "Four Freedoms" speech of January 6, 1941, the proposals were politically not viable and were never adopted.

In 1934, Merriam served on the Commission of Inquiry on Public Service Personnel, a research group established by the Social Science Research Council to research, analyze, and make proposals regarding the federal civil service and civil service reform (with an eye to the innovations made by the Tennessee Valley Authority).

Charles Merriam retired from the University of Chicago in 1940, at the age of 66. He was the last director of the Lucy Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Fund, acting in that capacity from 1940 until its merger with the Rockefeller Foundation in 1949.
Charles Merriam died on January 8, 1953, at Hilltop Hospital in Rockville, Maryland, after a long illness. He was survived by his daughter and three sons.

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Gravesite Details CAPT AIR SVC; AVN; EXAM BOARD; 30 DIV; USA

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  • Created by: John C. Anderson
  • Added: 6 Mar 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 49259963
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Charles Edward Merriam, Jr (15 Nov 1874–8 Jan 1953), Find A Grave Memorial no. 49259963, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by John C. Anderson (contributor 47208015) .