Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Charles W. Royster


This is a study of the life and career of Douglas Southall Freeman (1886-1953), whose careful scheduling of every minute of every day allowed him to pursue two full-time careers--one as a historian and one as editor of a major daily newspaper. In both occupations his views were shaped by the traditional values he acquired in this youth--religious conviction, reverence for heroes, devotion to duty, self-control, fortitude, industry, thrift. Growing up in Virginia during the era of the Confederate celebration, Freeman came to admire one hero above all others--Robert E. Lee, a man whose character best exemplified his own moral values. In his Pulitzer prize-winning biography. R. E. Lee, he painted a vivid portrait of a moral hero. He followed up Lee with a study of the high command of the Army of Northern Virginia. Lee's Lieutenants was his personal favorite among his books and represented his contribution to the training of a new generation of American soldiers. His last major historical work, George Washington never achieved quite the level of acclaim from either the reading public or the critics that Lee and Lee's Lieutenants did, but it constituted another monumental portrait of a moral hero for Americans. In 1915 Freeman became editor of the Richmond News Leader, a position he held for 34 years. In state politics he was an independent Democrat who consistently, if cautiously, opposed Virginia's political machine. In national politics he considered himself to be a liberal for the first two decades of this editorship. By his own definition of the term, he was perhaps a life-long liberal, but after 1935 his insistence on fiscal conservatism and limited federal power no longer placed him in the liberal camp. Despite his growing opposition to the tax and spend policies of the New Deal, he endorsed each of Franklin Roosevelt's bids for re-election, primarily because he trusted FDR's experienced hand in guiding the nation's foreign policy. He soon lost faith in Roosevelt's successor, Harry Truman, and openly endorsed Republican Dwight Eisenhower for President in 1952.