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Presidential historian Jon Meacham '87 speaks to students about history, McCallie in visit to campus

Pulitzer Prize-winning McCallie School alumnus Jon Meacham ’87 shared his insight on history, politics and life at McCallie during a special visit to campus Dec. 10, 2018.

McCallie School students were entertained and enlightened by Pulitzer Prize-winning alumnus Jon Meacham ’87, who visited campus Monday to share his memories of McCallie as well as insights on history and today’s political environment.

Meacham, a Chattanooga native, is the author of several best-selling history books including “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power,” “Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship,” “American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House,” “Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush” and most recently “Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels.” Meacham was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 2009 for “American Lion.”

During his visit, Meacham shared stories of his days as a student at McCallie and his friendship  with current headmaster Lee Burns ’87, who introduced him for remarks to upper school students in Chapel and later to Middle Schoolers in McDonald Hall.

“McCallie was like my version of a Netflix or Amazon,” Meacham said. “Teachers would always help guide you to new discoveries saying ‘If you liked this, then you might like this.’ The way that faculty could push me to find more when they saw I had a passion.”

On Wednesday, Meacham delivered a eulogy at the funeral of President George H.W. Bush, Meacham and the Bush family became close to while Meacham was writing “Destiny and Power,” his biography of the 41st president of the United States that was named one of the ten best books of the 2015 by The Washington Post and one of the best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review, Time, National Public Radio, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Several alumni and members of the media came to campus for Meacham’s visit, and his remarks were covered by the Chattanooga Times Free Press and WTVC-NewsChannel 9.

During his visit to McCallie School, Meacham spoke to the Upper School at a special assembly in the school Chapel and with a smaller group of students later for more discussions about history and current events. He then went to the Middle School to share his insights — and a few presidential impressions — with the younger boys.

In addition, Meacham and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) recorded an hour-long conversation Monday morning in the Millis-Evans Room in Caldwell Hall. This program, recorded by WTCI-TV45, will be broadcast statewide on Tennessee Public Television stations Thursday, Dec. 13 at 8 p.m.

More photos from Meacham’s visit can be found at an online photo gallery.

Video of his remarks in Chapel can also be viewed here:

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