Arthur Stanley Link (August 8, 1920 in
New Market, Virginia
New Market, Virginia – March
26, 1998 in Advance, North Carolina) was an American historian and
educator, known as the leading authority on U.S. President Woodrow
2 Notable quotations
4 External links
Born in New Market, Va., 50 miles from Wilson's birthplace in
Staunton, Virginia, to a Lutheran minister of German descent, Link
graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
receiving a B.A. in 1941 and a Ph.D. in 1945, getting inspired to look
into the career of
Woodrow Wilson career by Fletcher Green, one of his
professors. Although his early writings were critical of Wilson for
demanding overly harsh reparations from a defeated Germany after World
War I, he grew to love him, becoming the leading specialist on him,
publishing a 5-volume biography (to the start of the First World War)
(out of eight originally planned) while editing all 69 volumes of
Wilson's papers. Although he published numerous textbooks, Link
concentrated his scholarship on the politics and diplomacy of the
As a historian of the Progressive Era, Link made three major
The first was to stress the importance of
Progressivism in the South
(a theme developed by C. Vann Woodward) and the importance of the
South to progressivism nationally. Link saw Wilson as a southerner
with a Southern base, who thus broadened the scope of the politics of
The second was to locate the heart of
Progressivism in Theodore
Roosevelt's New Nationalism platform of 1912, not in Wilson's New
Freedom, the point being that Wilson was a conservative until 1913,
when he suddenly accepted the core values of Roosevelt's proposals to
use the federal government to reform the economy.
The third was to argue that
Progressivism collapsed after World War I
because of internecine conflicts among reformers and uncertainties
about how to pursue their agendas further. The Progressives ran out of
ideas and left the field to Warren G. Harding. Nevertheless, Link also
Progressivism was stronger in the 1920s than was generally
acknowledged and that the underground currents formed the heart of the
New Deal in the 1930s.
As Link delved into the manuscripts, he changed his mind but usually
did not try to rewrite his books. The one exception was Woodrow
Wilson: Revolution, War, and Peace (1979) (a revision of Wilson the
Diplomatist). Link softened his criticism of Wilson's responses to the
Mexican Revolution and German submarine warfare and gave him higher
marks than before as a war leader and articulator of war aims in the
Fourteen Points. Link had previously stated that Wilson would have
taken the same unbending stand against ratification of the Versailles
Treaty with Henry Cabot Lodge's reservations if he had enjoyed perfect
health. In Link's revision, he stressed Wilson's deteriorating
cardiovascular condition and massive stroke. The medical deterioration
made it hard for Wilson to compromise with Lodge and explains, in
part, Wilson's earlier actions at the
Versailles Peace Conference
Versailles Peace Conference and
his dealings with the U.S. Senate over the treaty. Link incorporated
his new ideas in elaborate notes in his edition of the Papers. The
book is an attempt at a refutation of George F. Kennan's American
Link taught at
Northwestern University (1949–60), and Princeton
University (1945-1949 and 1958–92). He directed numerous PhD
dissertations, including those of William Harbaugh (who worked on
Theodore Roosevelt), and Gerald Grob (who studied mental health). His
relations with his colleagues at Princeton were sometimes strained, as
with Eric F. Goldman. At one point, Link was attacked by some
scholars for his medical interpretation of Wilson, and Princeton
University and the funding agencies seemed unsupportive, causing the
long relationship to end on a sour note in 1949.
Princeton did not eagerly invite his return in 1958, but the Woodrow
Wilson Foundation insisted on it as a condition for financing The
Papers of Woodrow Wilson.
According to his obituary in The New York Times by Michael T.
"Day after day, year after year since 1958, Mr. Link would rise at
5:30 in the morning and search for, read and assess hundreds of
thousands of documents that would eventually fill the volumes that
Princeton University Press published at $65 each. Princeton has sold
almost 100,000 of them, an extraordinary number for this sort of work.
At his desk, the same one that Wilson had used when he was president
of Princeton, Professor Link wrote each of the long footnotes that
explained the context of a particular letter or document, linking it
to material that came before or would come later."
Link was distant from the administration and faculty but enjoyed
working with undergraduates; his star pupil at Princeton University
was Bill Bradley, and at
Northwestern University it was George
McGovern, who wrote labor history and whom Link supported when he was
the 1972 Democratic candidate for president. Future Princeton, New
Jersey mayor Phyllis Marchand worked for him as an indexer, noting
that he rejected the idea of using computers, preferring index cards
and a typewriter.
Link served as president of the American Historical Association, the
Organization of American Historians, and the Southern Historical
Association. In 1958-1958 he served as the Harold Vyvyan Harmsworth
Professor of American History at Oxford University. He published 30
books, including history textbooks, and was the recipient of numerous
awards, including 10 honorary degrees and two Bancroft Prizes. An
active Presbyterian, he served as vice-president of the National
Council of Churches of Christ in America. When not doing history, he
enjoyed reading and rereading the novels of Anthony Trollope.
He married Margaret Douglas Link (d. 1996) in 1945; they had four
children, William A. Link (a historian), Dr. A. Stanley Link Jr. of
Winston-Salem, N.C., and James Douglas Link of Flemington, N.J.; a
daughter, Margaret Link Weil of Chapel Hill, N.C.; and four
Link died of lung cancer at 77.
"I've read a lot of history in my life, and I think that aside from
St. Paul, Jesus and the great religious prophets,
Woodrow Wilson was
the most admirable character I've ever encountered in history."
"Most of the Hitler and Stalin scholars I know are depressed people."
Wilson, a biography in 5 volumes (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton
University Press). Volume I: "The Road to the White House, 570 pages
(1947); Volume II: "The New Freedom", 504 pages (1956) (Bancroft
Prize); Volume III: "The Struggle for Neutrality", 733 pages (1960);
Volume IV: "Confusions and Crises, 1915-1916", 386 pages (1964);
Volume V: "Campaigns for
Progressivism and Peace, 1916-1917", 464
pages (1965) (ISBN 0691045763).
Woodrow Wilson, A Selected Bibliography of His Published Writings,
Addresses and Public Papers (Princeton:
Princeton University Press,
Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era, 1910-1917 (New York: Harper
& Brothers, 1954). read online
American Epoch: A History of the United States Since the 1890s (New
York: Knopf, 1955), textbook
Wilson the Diplomatist: A Look at His Major Foreign Policies, New
Viewpoints, (Baltimore; Johns Hopkins Press, 1957)
"What Happened to the Progressive Movement in the 1920's?" The
American Historical Review, Vol. 64, No. 4 (Jul., 1959),
pp. 833–851 JSTOR 1905118
Wilson: The Struggle for Neutrality, 1914-1915 (Princeton, N.J.:
Princeton University Press, 1960). (Bancroft Prize)
Our American Republic (Boston: Ginn, 1963).
editor, The Papers of
Woodrow Wilson (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton
University Press), 69 volumes, 1966-1983
v. 1. 1856-1880—v. 2. 1881-1884—v. 3. 1884-1885—v. 4. 1885—v.
5. 1885-1888—v. 6. 1888-1890—v. 7. 1890-1892—v. 8.
1892-1894—v. 9. 1894-1896—v. 10. 1896-1898—v. 11. 1898-1900—v.
12. 1900-1902—v. 13. Contents and index, vols. 1 to 12,
1856-1902—v. 14. 1902-1903—v. 15. 1903-1905—v. 16.
1905-1907—v. 17. 1907-1908—v. 18. 1908-1909—v. 19.
1909-1910—v. 20-21. 1910—v. 22. 1910-1911—v. 23. 1911-1912—v.
24-25. 1912—v. 26. Contents and index, vols. 14-25, 1902-1912—v.
27-28. 1913—v. 29. 1913-1914—v. 30-31. 1914—v. 32-34. 1915—v.
35. 1915-1916—v. 36-38. 1916—v. 40. 1916-1917—v. 41-44.
1917—v. 45. 1917-1918—v. 46-48. 1918—v. 50. The complete press
conferences, 1913-1919—v. 51. 1918—v. 52. Index, 1916-1918—v.
53. 1918-1919—v. 54-63. 1919—v. 64. 1919-1920—v. 65-66.
1920—v. 67. 1920-1922—v. 68. 1922-1924.
The Impact of
World War I
World War I (ed.) (New York: Harper & Row, 1969).
The Diplomacy of World Power: The United States, 1889-1920, edited by
Arthur S. Link and William M. Leary, Jr. (London: Edward Arnold,
The Democratic Heritage: A History of the United States (with Stanley
Coben) (Waltham, Mass.: Ginn, 1971).
The Higher Realism of Woodrow Wilson, and Other Essays, with a
foreword by Dewey W. Grantham. (Nashville: Vanderbilt University
Problems in American History, edited by Richard W. Leopold, Arthur S.
Link, and Stanley Coben. 4th ed. 2 vols. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.,
The Age of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1921-1945 (with William B. Catton).
4th ed. (New York: Knopf; distributed by Random House, 1973).
The Era of the Cold War, 1946-1973, by
Arthur S. Link and William B.
Catton. 4th ed. (New York, Knopf; distributed by Random House, 1974).
Woodrow Wilson: Revolution, War, and Peace (Arlington Heights, Ill.:
H. Davidson, 1979) (ISBN 0882957996) read online
An Era of Economic Change, Reform, and World Wars, 1900-1945 (with
William B. Catton), maps and charts by Theodore R. Miller. 5th ed.
(New York: Knopf: distributed by Random House, 1980).
Woodrow Wilson and a Revolutionary World, 1913-1921 (ed.). (Chapel
Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1982).
Progressivism (with Richard L. McCormick). (Arlington Heights, Ill.:
Harlan Davidson, 1983). read online
The Twentieth Century: An American History (with William A. Link).
(Arlington Heights, Ill.: Harlan Davidson, 1983).
The American Historical Association, 1884–1984: Retrospect and
Prospect (Presidential Address to the American Historical Association,
December 28, 1984) read online
The Wilson Era: Essays in Honor of Arthur S. Link, edited by John
Milton Cooper, Jr. and Charles E. Neu. (Arlington Heights, Ill.:
Harlan Davidson, 1991).
The Real Woodrow Wilson: An Interview with Arthur S. Link, editor of
the Wilson Papers, by James Robert Carroll. 1st ed. (Bennington, Vt.:
Images from the Past, 2001).
Arthur S. Link Papers at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library,
Link Family Papers at the Southern Historical Collection, UNC-Chapel
Arthur S. Link Archives at Warren Wilson College
John Milton Cooper, Jr., "Arthur S. Link", in Robert Allen Rutland,
ed. Clio's Favorites: Leading Historians of the United States,
1945-2000, U of Missouri Press (2000), pp 111–125. online edition
John Milton Cooper, Jr. and Charles E. Neu, eds. The Wilson era:
essays in honor of Arthur S. Link, 1991.
William A. Link, Links: My Family in American History, University
Press of Florida, 2012.