Archibald MacLeish Is Born

Archibald MacLeish, poet, dramatist, and ninth Librarian of Congress, was born on May 7, 1892, in Glencoe, Illinois.

He attended Yale University where he chaired the Yale Literary Magazine. After service in World War I, he graduated from Harvard Law School. MacLeish practiced law for three years before resigning and moving his family to Paris.

Like American expatriates Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway, MacLeish found Paris of the 1920s a creative haven. He produced several volumes of poetry during his years in France including The Happy Marriage, and Other Poems (1924), The Pot of Earth (1925), and Streets in the Moon (1926).

In 1928, MacLeish returned to the United States to research and write his epic poem Conquistador. This long narrative work about the Spanish conquest of Mexico received the 1933 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. The social awareness manifest in Conquistador continued to inform his work.

Archibald MacLeish (7 May 1892 – 20 April 1982) was an American poet, writer and the Librarian of Congress. He is associated with the modernist school of poetry. He has received three Pulitzer Prizes for his work.

MacLeish was born in Glencoe, Illinois. His father, Andrew MacLeish, worked as a dry-goods merchant. His mother, Martha Hillard, was a college professor. He grew up on an estate bordering Lake Michigan. He attended the Hotchkiss School from 1907 to 1911, before moving on to Yale University, where he majored in English and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and selected for the Skull and Bones society. He then enrolled in the Harvard Law School. In 1916, he married. His studies were interrupted by World War I, in which he served first as an ambulance driver and later as a captain of artillery. He graduated from the law school in 1919. He taught law for a semester for the government department at Harvard, then worked briefly as an editor for The New Republic. He next spent three years practicing law.

The first duty of the Library of Congress is to serve the Congress and the officers and agencies of government. Its second duty is to serve the world of scholarship and letters. Through both it endeavors to serve the American people to whom it belongs and for whom it exists. ”

— Archibald MacLeish