Chattanooga native Meacham picks up Pulitzer Prize

Chattanooga native Meacham picks up Pulitzer Prize

April 21st, 2009 by Yolanda Putman in Local Regional News

University of the South professor Robert Benson said he's not at all surprised that former student and Chattanooga native Jon Meacham became a Pulitzer Prize winner Monday.

"This is so predictable," Mr. Benson said. "He was a great student. The thing I remember so clearly is that he wrote so well. He had a very quick, critical mind and a very good grasp of material that we were reading and discussing in class."

Editor of Newsweek magazine and a former reporter for the Chattanooga Times in the early 1990s, Mr. Meacham was awarded a Pulitzer in the arts for his biography, "American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House."

Mr. Meacham graduated from the University of the South in 1992, and it was during his senior year that he was taught Chaucer poetry by Mr. Benson.

In elementary school, he attended St. Nicholas School and was a 1987 high school graduate of McCallie School.

John Lambert, chairman of McCallie School's English department, said Mr. Meacham was the first student he met after he was hired to be the yearbook editor in 1986. Mr. Meacham was co-editor.

"Within about 20 minutes of seeing this kid, he was 18, I knew I had nothing to teach him," said Mr. Lambert, who was then 21. "I sort of knew I was going to just sit back and sort of watch. He was such a gifted writer, even at 18."

Mr. Meacham was born in Chattanooga in 1969. His father, Jere Ellis Meacham, was a former editor of the UTC student newspaper, the University Echo. And his grandfather, Ellis K. Meacham, was a Chattanooga city judge, according to a Chattanooga Times Free Press obituary.