David Lawrence (1888-1973)
Born in Philadelphia on Christmas Day, 1888, David Lawrence would go on to become one of the most important journalists of the twentieth century.
Although originally from Philadelphia, the Lawrence family moved to Buffalo soon after David was born. After graduating from high school, Lawrence entered Princeton University where he worked as an Associated Press (AP) correspondent. Discovering that he enjoyed reporting, Lawrence continued to work for the AP after graduating from Princeton in 1910. He relocated to Washington, D.C., and joined the capital press corps, quickly attracting notice for the maturity and detachment with which he wrote.
In 1912, Lawrence went on the road to cover Woodrow Wilson's campaign, and in 1913 he returned to Washington as a White House correspondent. The following year he helped found the White House Correspondent's Association, all the while cultivating a mutual professional respect between himself and President Wilson. This was so much the case that Wilson frequently sought Lawrence's advice on U.S.-Mexico relations, a subject that Lawrence had worked on in his first year of professional reporting.
In 1915, Lawrence left the AP for a job with the New York Evening Post where he continued to write about Mexico, international affairs, public policy, and the war in Europe. Lawrence remained with the Post to cover the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919, but left soon after to form the Consolidated Press Association, a general news service analogous to the Associated Press. He devoted most of his attention to this project until 1926 when he founded the United States Daily, a newspaper that reported the activities of the federal government. Although Lawrence had made an unsuccessful bid to purchase The Washington Post in 1931, he remained undeterred and refashioned his publication into a more appealing weekly magazine called The United States News.
In 1946, Lawrence founded another magazine, The World Report, and devoted it to coverage of international issues rather than domestic news. Two years later, the accomplished publisher merged his two creations into U.S. News and World Report, a magazine that remains in wide circulation today.
Although Lawrence consistently maintained the nonpartisanship of his magazine, he was personally an avowed conservative who opposed the New Deal and endorsed American involvement in Vietnam. Nonetheless, when he died in February 1973, Lawrence had earned the respect of liberals and conservatives alike for his remarkable accomplishments and journalistic integrity.
American National Biography. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, 277-278.