Merrill D. Peterson

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Merrill D. Peterson (1921-2009) the noted Jeffersonian scholar, a University of Virginia history professor, former chairman of the History Department and dean of the faculty of the College of Arts & Sciences.

Mr. Peterson, was a prolific writer whose subjects included the abolitionist John Brown, the great 19th-century orator and statesmen Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, Abraham Lincoln and, somewhat anomalously, a calamitous episode in Armenian history. His book “Starving Armenians: America and the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1930 and After,” published in 2004, was written after he joined the Peace Corps at the age of 76 and was sent to that region.

Peterson wrote or edited 37 books. A noted Jeffersonian scholar, he was the editor of the Library of America edition of the writings of Thomas Jefferson. His 1994 study of Abraham Lincoln, "Lincoln in American Memory," was a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize in history. For his dedication to scholarship and writing, the Library of Virginia honored him in 2005 with its Literary Lifetime Achievement Award. Among his many other awards was a Guggenheim fellowship in 1962-63.

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