Michael Kammen

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Michael Gedaliah Kammen (October 25, 1936 – November 29, 2013) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning professor of American cultural history in the Department of History at Cornell University. At the time of his death, he held the title "Newton C. Farr professor emeritus of American history and culture".

Kammen was born in 1936 in Rochester, New York, grew up in the Washington, DC area, and was educated at the George Washington University and Harvard University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1964 after studying under Bernard Bailyn. He began teaching at Cornell upon completion his graduate studies at Harvard and taught until retiring to emeritus status in 2008. He won his first renown as a scholar of the colonial period of American history, yet his scholarship and teaching interests eventually broadened to include legal, cultural and social issues of American history of the 19th and 20th centuries as well.

One of his first major books, People of Paradox: An Inquiry Concerning the Origins of American Civilization, won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1973. A later work, A Machine That Would Go of Itself: The Constitution in American Culture (1986), won the Francis Parkman Prize and the Henry Adams Prize. In this work, Kammen describes the American people's evolving conceptions of the U.S. Constitution and of constitutional governance, stressing both mechanical and organic conceptions of constitutional development over time.

Kammen was active in organizations advancing the study of history, and served as president of the Organization of American Historians for the 1995-96 year.

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