He received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1912 and began teaching history there in 1915, becoming full professor in 1925 and Jonathan Trumbull professor of American history in 1941. Between 1922 and 1925 he was Harmsworth professor of American history at Oxford. Among his earlier books are The Life and Letters of Harrison Gray Otis, Federalist, 1765–1848 (1913) and The Growth of the American Republic (1930, 6th rev. and enl. ed. 1969), written in collaboration with Henry Steele Commager. In 1926, Morison was appointed the official historian of Harvard and commenced to write the Tercentennial History of Harvard College and University, which was completed in 1936 in three volumes. Two of Morison's books won Pulitzer Prizes: Admiral of the Ocean Sea (1942), a biography of Christopher Columbus, and John Paul Jones (1959). In 1942, Morison was commissioned by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to write a history of U.S. naval operations in World War II and given the rank of lieutenant commander (he retired from the navy in 1951 as a rear admiral). The 15 volumes of his History of United States Naval Operations in World War II appeared between 1947 and 1962. Although he retired from Harvard in 1955, Morison continued his research and writing.
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