Edmund S. Morgan, 97, Leading Scholar of Colonial Era, Biographer of Founders

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Edmund S. Morgan dies at 97, leading scholar of Colonial era, biographer of Founders

Jan. 17, 1916 - July 8, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) - Edmund S. Morgan, Ph.D., a leading scholar of the Colonial era who helped reinvigorate the reputations of the Founders, probed the country's racial and religious origins and, in his 80s, wrote a best-selling biography of Benjamin Franklin, has died in Connecticut. He was 97.

Mr. Morgan died Monday afternoon in Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he was being treated for pneumonia, said his wife, Marie.

A professor emeritus at Yale University, he was a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books and author of more than a dozen books, including "Birth of the Republic," "The Puritan Dilemma" and "Inventing the People," winner in 1989 of the Bancroft Prize. His other awards included a National Medal of the Humanities in 2000 and an honorary citation from Pulitzer Prize officials in 2006 for his "creative and deeply influential body of work."

Mr. Morgan shared Franklin's birthday, Jan. 17, and impish spirit. The bald, round-faced historian had a prankster's smile; a soft, sweet laugh; and a willingness to poke fun at his own prestige, joking that history books bored him and that his favorite students were the ones who disagreed with him. He attributed the success of his Franklin book to "the geezer factor." For decades, Mr. Morgan and Harvard Professor Bernard Bailyn were cited as leaders in Early American Studies. …