James MacGregor Burns (August 3, 1918 in Melrose, MA – July 15, 2014
in Williamstown, MA) was an American historian and political
scientist, presidential biographer, and authority on leadership
studies. He was the
Woodrow Wilson Professor of Government Emeritus at
Williams College and Distinguished Leadership Scholar at the James
MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership of the School of Public Policy
at the University of Maryland, College Park. In 1971 Burns received
the Pulitzer Prize and the
National Book Award in History and
Biography for his work on America's 32nd president, Roosevelt: The
Soldier of Freedom.
Burns shifted the focus of leadership studies from the traits and
actions of great men to the interaction of leaders and their
constituencies as collaborators working toward mutual benefit. He
was best known for his contributions to the transactional,
transformational, aspirational, and visionary schools of leadership
1.1 Early life
1.2 Military service
1.3 Academic career
1.4 Political career
2 Views on government
3 Theory of leadership
6 External links
Burns grew up in Burlington, MA where he attended grammar school at
Burlington Union School, and attended Lexington High School in
neighboring Lexington, MA, where he graduated in 1935. He received
his bachelor's degree from
Williams College in 1939, his Ph.D. in
political science from
Harvard University in 1947 and also attended
the London School of Economics.
After graduating from Williams, Burns went to Washington, D.C. and
worked as a congressional aide. During World War II, he served in the
U.S. Army as a combat historian in the Pacific theater, and was
Bronze Star and four Battle Stars. Throughout his military
adventures, Burns noticed that when leadership was mentioned, it was
in terms of the traits and qualities of officers, but not soldiers.
Burns joined the faculty of
Williams College in 1947, and taught there
for nearly 40 years, retiring in 1986. A member of the American
Academy of Arts and Sciences, he served as president of the American
Political Science Association and the International Society of
Political Psychology. During the early 1990s he taught classes at the
University of Maryland, where the
James MacGregor Burns Academy of
Leadership was named for him. In 2010 he won the Arthur M.
Schlesinger, Jr. Award for Distinguished Writing in American History
of Enduring Public Significance presented jointly by the Roosevelt
Institute and the Society of American Historians.
His students included Georgia Jones Sorenson and Michael Beschloss.
A liberal, in 1958 Burns was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee in
Massachusetts's 1st congressional district, meeting then-U.S. Senator
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy and helping him gain Protestant support to get
re-elected, while Kennedy helped him gain Catholic support. Burns
gained personal access that allowed him to write his biography of
Kennedy, published in 1960, which calls JFK "casual as a cash
register," "quiet, taut, efficient--sometimes, perhaps, even dull,"
and generally too cerebral and lacking in heart. This angered
Kennedy's wife Jackie, who said Burns "underestimated" him. Burns
was eventually elected a delegate to four Democratic National
Burns died in Williamstown, MA, on July 15, 2014 at 95 after
publishing more than 20 books.
Views on government
As an admirer of a strong leader in the White House, Burns was
critical of the U.S. governmental system of checks and balances, which
he viewed as an obstacle to progress in times of a divided or
oppositional Congress. In The Deadlock of Democracy (1963) and Packing
the Court: The Rise of Judicial Power and the Coming Crisis of the
Supreme Court (2009) he called for systemic changes, arguing for term
limits for Supreme Court justices, an end to midterm elections, and a
population-based Senate. Burns also advocated repeal of the
Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution
Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution to allow
effective U.S. presidents to serve three or more terms of office.
Theory of leadership
Burns' Leadership (1978) founded the field of leadership studies,
introducing two types of leadership: transactional leadership, in
which leaders focus on the relationship between the leader and
follower, and transformational leadership, in which leaders focus on
the beliefs, needs, and values of their followers.
Leadership over human beings is exercised when persons with certain
motives and purposes mobilize, in competition or conflict with others,
institutional, political, psychological, and other resources so as to
arouse, engage, and satisfy the motives of followers... in order to
realize goals mutually held by both leaders and followers....
Transformational leadership occurs when one or more persons engage
with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another
to higher levels of motivation and morality.
That people can be lifted into their better selves is the secret of
transforming leadership and the moral and practical theme of this
His work has influenced other transformational leadership theorists
such as Bernard Bass, Bruce Avolio, and Kenneth Leithwood[citation
needed], and inspired Georgia Jones Sorenson to found the Center
for Political Leadership and Participation at the University of
Maryland, which Burns joined in 1993, causing the center to be renamed
in his honor in 1997 as the
James MacGregor Burns Academy of
Leadership; it later became an independent nonprofit organization.
In 2016, the
James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership will become
part of Churchill College and the Moller Institute at Cambridge
University in the United Kingdom.
Congress on Trial: The Legislative Process and the Administrative
State (Harper, 1949).
Government by the People (textbook) (1952 (20th ed. 2003),
Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox (Harcourt, Brace, 1956).
John Kennedy: A Political Profile (Harcourt, Brace, 1960).
The Deadlock of Democracy: Four-Party Politics in America (Prentice
Government by the People: The Dynamics of American National Government
Presidential Government: The Crucible of Leadership (Houghton-Mifflin,
Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970)
Pulitzer Prize for History).(ISBN 0-15-602757-7).
Uncommon Sense (1972).
Edward Kennedy and the Camelot Legacy (1976).
Leadership (Harper Collins, 1978) (ISBN 0-06-010588-7).
The Vineyard of Liberty (Alfred A. Knopf, 1982)
The Power to Lead: The Crisis of the American Presidency (Touchstone
The Workshop of Democracy (Alfred A. Knopf, 1985)
The Crosswinds of Freedom (Alfred A. Knopf, 1989)
Cobblestone Leadership: Majority Rule, Minority Power (University of
Oklahoma Press, 1990).
A People's Charter: The Pursuit of Rights in America (with Stewart
Burns) (Knopf, 1991).
The Democrats Must Lead: The Case for a Progressive Democratic Party
(with William Crotty) (1992).
Dead Center: Clinton-Gore Leadership and the Perils of Moderation
(with Georgia Jones Sorenson) (1999).
The Three Roosevelts: Patrician Leaders Who Transformed America, with
Susan Dunn (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2001)
Transforming Leadership: A New Pursuit of Happiness (Atlantic Monthly
Press, 2003) (ISBN 0-87113-866-2).
George Washington (with Susan Dunn) (ed. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.)
(Times Books, 2004).
Encyclopedia of Leadership (with Georgia Jones Sorenson and George R.
Running Alone: Presidential Leadership — JFK to Bush II: Why It Has
Failed and How We Can Fix It (Basic Books, 2006).
Packing the Court: The Rise of Judicial Power and the Coming Crisis of
the Supreme Court (Penguin Press, 2009) (ISBN 1594202192).
Fire and Light: How the Enlightenment Transformed Our World (St.
Martin's Press, 2013) (ISBN 9781250024893).
^ a b "
James MacGregor Burns dies at 95". POLITICO.
^ "History". Past winners & finalists by category. The Pulitzer
Prizes. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
^ "National Book Awards – 1971". National Book Foundation. Retrieved
^ Burns, James MacGregor. Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom, 1940-45.
New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970
^ Burns, James MacGregor. Transforming Leadership: A New Pursuit of
Happiness. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2003.
^ Accardi, Dina (2012-11-25). "Kent Cottage faces uncertain future".
Burlington Union. Archived from the original on 2013-07-29.
^ a b Matt Schudel (July 17, 2014). "Historian won Pulitzer for
biography on FDR". The Baltimore Sun. p. 6.
^ Bruce Weber (July 15, 2014). "James MacGregor Burns, Scholar of
Presidents and Leadership, Dies at 95". The New York Times.
^ a b Tony Dobrowolski (July 15, 2014). "James MacGregor Burns,
historian and FDR biographer, dies at age 95". The Berkshire
James MacGregor Burns Wins History Award
2015-03-10. Retrieved 2018-02-03.
^ a b "James MacGregor Burns, Scholar of Presidents and Leadership,
Dies at 95". The New York Times. July 16, 2014.
^ Burns, James MacGregor. Running Alone: Presidential Leadership—JFK
to Bush II : Why It Has Failed and How We Can Fix It. New York:
Basic Books, 2006.
^ Turan, S. & Sny, C. (1996). An exploration of transformational
leadership and its role in strategic planning: A conceptual framework.
^ "Sorenson, Georgia - SAGE Publications Inc".
^ "Congress on Trial, by James Macgregor Burns".
^ "Amazon.com: James MacGregor Burns: Books, Biography, Blog,
^ "Roosevelt: the lion and the fox".
^ "John Kennedy".
^ "The Deadlock of Democracy".
^ "Government By the People; the Dynamics of American National
Government: J et al MacGregor Burns: Amazon.com: Books".
^ "Presidental[sic] Government".
^ "Roosevelt, the Soldier of Freedom".
^ "Uncommon sense".
^ "Edward Kennedy and the Camelot Legacy".
^ "The Vineyard of Liberty".
^ "Power to Lead".
^ "The Workshop of Democracy - Books on Google Play".
^ "The Crosswinds of Freedom".
^ "Cobblestone Leadership: Majority Rule, Minority Power (Julian J
Rothbaum Distinguished Lecture Series): James MacGregor Burns:
9780806123141: Amazon.com: Books".
^ "A People's Charter: The Pursuit of Rights in America: James
MacGregor Burns, Stewart Burns: 9780394577630: Amazon.com:
^ "The Democrats Must Lead: The Case for a Progressive Democratic
^ "Dead Center: Clinton-Gore Leadership and the Perils of Moderation:
James Macgregor Burns, Georgia Jones Sorenson: 9780684837789:
^ "The Three Roosevelts".
^ "Transforming Leadership".
^ "Amazon.com: George Washington (The American Presidents Series)
(9780805069365): James MacGregor Burns, Susan Dunn, Arthur M.
^ "Encyclopedia of Leadership 4 vol. set: George R. (EDT)/ Sorenson,
Georgia Jones (EDT)/ Burns, James MacGregor (EDT) Goethals:
9780761925972: Amazon.com: Books".
^ "Running Alone".
^ "Packing the Court".
^ "Fire and Light".
James MacGregor Burns on Leadership on YouTube
University of Maryland's
James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership
A film clip "The Open Mind - America's Past and Future Greatness, Part
I (1985)" is available at the Internet Archive
A film clip "The Open Mind - America's Past and Future Greatness, Part
II (1985)" is available at the Internet Archive
Appearances on C-SPAN
James MacGregor Burns at
Find a Grave
Find a Grave
Presidents of the American Political Science Association
Frank Johnson Goodnow
Frank Johnson Goodnow (1903-05)
Albert Shaw (1905-06)
Frederick N. Judson (1906-07)
James Bryce (1907-08)
Abbott Lawrence Lowell
Abbott Lawrence Lowell (1908-09)
Woodrow Wilson (1909-10)
Simeon Eben Baldwin
Simeon Eben Baldwin (1910-11)
Albert Bushnell Hart
Albert Bushnell Hart (1911-12)
Westel W. Willoughby (1912-13)
John Bassett Moore
John Bassett Moore (1913-14)
Ernst Freund (1914-15)
Jesse Macy (1915-16)
Munroe Smith (1916-18)
Henry Jones Ford
Henry Jones Ford (1918-19)
Paul Samuel Reinsch
Paul Samuel Reinsch (1919-20)
Leo Stanton Rowe
Leo Stanton Rowe (1920-21)
William Archibald Dunning (1921-22)
Harry Augustus Garfield
Harry Augustus Garfield (1922-23)
James Wilford Garner (1923-24)
Charles Edward Merriam
Charles Edward Merriam (1924-25)
Charles A. Beard
Charles A. Beard (1925-26)
William B. Munro (1926-27)
Jesse S. Reeves (1927-28)
John A. Fairlie (1928-29)
Benjamin F. Shambaugh (1929-30)
Edward Samuel Corwin
Edward Samuel Corwin (1930-31)
William F. Willoughby (1931-32)
Isidor Loeb (1932-33)
Walter J. Shepard (1933-34)
Francis W. Coker (1934-35)
Arthur N. Holcombe (1935-36)
Thomas Reed Powell (1936-37)
Clarence Addison Dykstra (1937-38)
Charles Grove Haines (1938-39)
Robert C. Brooks (1939-40)
Frederic A. Ogg (1940-41)
William Anderson (1941-42)
Robert E. Cushman (1942-43)
Leonard D. White (1943-44)
John Gaus (1944-45)
Walter F. Dodd
Walter F. Dodd (1945-46)
Arthur MacMahon (1946-47)
Henry R. Spencer (1947-48)
Quincy Wright (1948-49)
James K. Pollock (1949-50)
Peter H. Odegard (1950-51)
Luther Gulick (1951-52)
E. Pendleton Herring (1952-53)
Ralph Bunche (1953-54)
Charles McKinley (1954-55)
Harold Lasswell (1955-56)
Elmer Eric Schattschneider (1956-57)
V. O. Key Jr. (1957-58)
R. Taylor Cole (1958-59)
Carl B. Swisher (1959-60)
Emmette Redford (1960-61)
Charles S. Hyneman (1961-62)
Carl Joachim Friedrich (1962-63)
C. Herman Pritchett (1963-64)
David Truman (1964-65)
Gabriel Almond (1965-66)
Robert A. Dahl
Robert A. Dahl (1966-67)
Merle Fainsod (1967-68)
David Easton (1968-69)
Karl Deutsch (1969-70)
Robert E. Lane (1970-71)
Heinz Eulau (1971-72)
Robert E. Ward (1972-73)
Avery Leiserson (1973-74)
J. Austin Ranney (1974-75)
James MacGregor Burns (1975-76)
Samuel Beer (1976-77)
John C. Wahlke (1977-78)
Leon D. Epstein (1978-79)
Warren Miller (1979-80)
Charles E. Lindblom (1980-81)
Seymour Martin Lipset
Seymour Martin Lipset (1981-82)
William H. Riker (1982-83)
Philip Converse (1983-84)
Richard Fenno (1984-85)
Aaron Wildavsky (1985-86)
Samuel P. Huntington
Samuel P. Huntington (1986-87)
Kenneth Waltz (1987-88)
Lucian Pye (1988-89)
Judith N. Shklar (1989-90)
Theodore J. Lowi
Theodore J. Lowi (1990-91)
James Q. Wilson (1991-92)
Lucius J. Barker (1992-93)
Charles O. Jones (1993-94)
Sidney Verba (1994-95)
Arend Lijphart (1995-96)
Elinor Ostrom (1996-97)
M. Kent Jennings (1997-98)
Matthew Holden (1998-99)
Robert Keohane (1999-00)
Robert Jervis (2000-01)
Robert D. Putnam
Robert D. Putnam (2001-02)
Theda Skocpol (2002-03)
Susanne Hoeber Rudolph (2003-04)
Margaret Levi (2004-05)
Ira Katznelson (2005-06)
Robert Axelrod (2006-07)
Dianne Pinderhughes (2007-08)
Peter J. Katzenstein (2008-09)
Henry Brady (2009-10)
Carole Pateman (2010-11)
G. Bingham Powell (2011-12)
Jane Mansbridge (2012-13)
John Aldrich (2013-14)
Rodney E. Hero (2014-15)
Jennifer Hochschild (2015-16)
David A. Lake (2016-)
Pulitzer Prize for History (1951–1975)
R. Carlyle Buley
R. Carlyle Buley (1951)
Oscar Handlin (1952)
George Dangerfield (1953)
Bruce Catton (1954)
Paul Horgan (1955)
Richard Hofstadter (1956)
George F. Kennan
George F. Kennan (1957)
Bray Hammond (1958)
Leonard D. White and
Jean Schneider (1959)
Margaret Leech (1960)
Herbert Feis (1961)
Lawrence H. Gipson (1962)
Constance McLaughlin Green (1963)
Sumner Chilton Powell (1964)
Irwin Unger (1965)
Perry Miller (1966)
William H. Goetzmann (1967)
Bernard Bailyn (1968)
Leonard Levy (1969)
Dean Acheson (1970)
James MacGregor Burns (1971)
Carl Neumann Degler (1972)
Michael Kammen (1973)
Daniel J. Boorstin
Daniel J. Boorstin (1974)
Dumas Malone (1975)
ISNI: 0000 0001 1862 4741
BNF: cb12019692z (data)