Jon Ellis Meacham (//; born May 20, 1969) is an American writer, reviewer, historian and presidential biographer who is serving as the current Canon Historian of the Washington National Cathedral. A former executive editor and executive vice president at Random House, he is a contributing writer to The New York Times Book Review, a contributing editor to Time magazine, and a former editor-in-chief of Newsweek. He is the author of several books. He won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography for American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. He holds the Carolyn T. and Robert M. Rogers Endowed Chair in American Presidency at Vanderbilt University.
Meacham was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His parents are Jere Ellis Meacham (1946–2008), a construction and labor-relations executive who was decorated for valor during the Vietnam War, and Linda (McBrayer) Brodie. His paternal grandparents, Ellis K. Meacham and Jean Austin Meacham, raised him after his parents’ divorce. When he was a child, his grandfather had discussions each morning with a group of men about local and national politics. As a result, Meacham developed an interest in politics. He received an invitation to Ronald Reagan‘s 1981 inauguration in Washington, D.C., in response to a letter that he sent to the president-elect.
Meacham attended The McCallie School,[lower-alpha 1] where he developed an interest in the civil rights movement. He then went on to attend Sewanee: The University of the South where he graduated salutatorian and summa cum laude in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.