- Merriam, Charles Edward
- (1874-1953)Political scientist Charles Merriam was born in Iowa. He earned his first degree from Lenox College in Hopkinton, Iowa, and then taught for a year, studied law at the State University of Iowa, and went to Columbia University, where he completed his M.A. in 1897 and his Ph.D. in 1900. Beginning in 1900 Merriam taught at the University of Chicago. He was active in Chicago’s reform politics and was elected as Republican alderman to the city council in 1909 and served until 1917. Merriam ran for mayor in 1911 as a progressive Republican but was narrowly defeated. With Harold Ickes, he established the Illinois Progressive Party and backed first Robert M. La Follette Sr. and then Theodore Roosevelt.Merriam worked as an examiner for the Chicago Aviation Board and later the Committee of Public Information during World War I. In 1918, he acted as a high commissioner of information in Rome. In the 1920s, Merriam built the Political Science Department at the University of Chicago into one of the leading schools of its kind. In 1923, he was one of the founders of the Social Science Research Council, and in 1925 he was elected president of the American Political Science Association. From 1929 to 1933, Merriam served on President Herbert Hoover’s Research Committee on Social Trends, which issued its report in 1933.In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Merriam to the National Planning Board (later the National Resources Planning Board) established under the National Industrial Recovery Act, and he remained one of the team of planners throughout the New Deal. He argued for reorganization of the executive branch and from 1936 to 1937 served on the President’s Committee on Administrative Management that brought about restructuring in the Reorganization Act of 1939. Merriam continued to serve on the National Planning Board until it was abolished in 1943. His many publications include American Political Ideas (1920), The American Political System (1922), and New Aspects of Politics (1925), and in his roles in government he provided an important link between academia and public policy.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.