George Catlin (political scientist)

George Catlin (political scientist)

Sir George Edward Gordon Catlin (1896 Liverpool -1979) was an English political scientist and philosopher. A strong proponent of Anglo-America cooperation, he worked for many years as a professor at Cornell University and other universities and colleges in the United States and Canada. He preached the use of a natural science model for political science. McMaster University Libraries hold his correspondence archive and the body of some of his works.


Catlin was the he son of an Anglican clergyman in Liverpool. He received no formal education until he was 13 when he attended St. Paul's School, London. He then won a scholarship to study history at New College, Oxford.

He volunteered in the early months of World War I but was rejected and spent most of the war working for the liquor traffic department of the Central Control Board. He was involved as a soldier in the last months of World War I, fighting on the Western Front in Belgium.

After the war he received his M.A. at Oxford and won three major prizes, in including , in 1921, the Mathew Arnold prize for his essay on the political thought of Thomas Hobbes entitled "Thomas Hobbes as Philosopher, Publicist and Man of Letters". He took up the relatively new field of political science. This was better established in the USA and at the invitation of the historian Wallace Notestein he began lecturing at Cornell University where he had the close association of Carl Becker. [ " The Politics of George Catlin"] by Francis D. Wormuth, The Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Sep., 1961), pp. 807-811. At JSTOR.] There he completed his doctoral thesis, published in 1926 entitled "The Science and Method of Politics". This was followed in 1929 by "A Study of the Principles of Politics". He was an Assistant Professor of Politics at Cornell by the age of 28 and subsequently twice Acting Chairman. In 1926 he was appointed to be the director of the National Commission (Social Research Council) to study the impact of prohibition in the United States. His conclusions were subsequently published as a book.

Catlin married the English novelist Vera Brittain in 1925 after a courtship that began as a correspondence. She was pursuing her own career as a writer in Britain and the marriage endured many Atlantic wide separations. They went on to have two children , John Catlin (1927-1987), whose memoirs, "Family Quartet", appeared in 1987, and well-known British politician Shirley Williams (born 1930). [Vera Brittain,autobiographies, "Testament of Youth" (1933) and "Testament of Experience" (1957)]

Catlin was a strong proponent of Anglo-American cooperation even to the extent of advocating an organic union between the two countries. He published "Anglo-Saxony and Its Tradition" in 1939. [ [ "Anglo-Saxony and Its Tradition"] by George Catlin, Macmillan, New York 1939. At Questia. ] He also had ambitions to be directly involved in British politics through the Labour Party.

Between 1928 and 1931 Catlin was attached to the personal staff of Sir Oswald Mosley. This was a period before Mosley had made his final break with the Labour Party to become openly fascist. In 1929 he assisted H.G. Wells, Arnold Bennett and others in establishing " The Realist" magazine.

Catlin was an unsuccessful Labour Party candidate in two general elections: 1931 in Brentford and Chiswick, and 1935 in Sunderland. From 1935 to 1937 he served on the executive committee of the Fabian Society.

During the 1930s Catlin traveled extensively. He visited Germany where he witnessed the 1933 Dimitrov trial on the Reichstag fire, a forewarning of what Nazism was to become. He went to Russia for a prolonged examination of the newly established Communist regime there and to Spain during the height of the Civil War. During this period Catlin wrote a large number of articles as a journalist, mostly for the "Yorkshire Post". He served on the campaign team of Presidential candidate Wendell Wilkie during 1940 and his subsequent book, "One Anglo-American Nation" appeared in 1941.

He was an early advocate of Indian independence after meeting Mahatma Gandhi in 1931 in London. He visited India in 1946 and 1947 and published his tribute to Gandhi after his assassination with "In the Path of Mahatma Gandhi" (1948).

He lectured in Peking in 1947. He served as Provost of Mar Ivanios College in India for 1953-54 and as Chairman and Bronfman Professor in the Department of Economics and Political Science at McGill University between 1956 and 1960.

He was a founder of the Movement for Atlantic Union, which was established in 1958. He drafted the constitution of the Paris based Atlantic Institute, founded in 1961.cite book|title=Who Was Who|publisher=A&C Black|date=2007] He was also a member of the Pilgrims Club of Great Britain.

His autobiography, on which he had worked sporadically since the end of the First World War, was finally published in 1972 as "For God's Sake, Go". [ Biography of George Catlin] at McMaster University . Accessed June 2008]

After Vera Brittain's death, Catlin remarried in 1971. He died in 1979 at the age of 88.


External links

* [ Biography of George Catlin and description of the George Edward Gordon Catlin fonds] , McMaster University Libraries
* [ "The Function of Political Science"] Paper published 1956 by George Catlin

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.