Margaret L. Elwell, 83; Won Pulitzer for Book on John C. Calhoun

From Staff and Wire Reports

Margaret L. Elwell, 83, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1951 for her biography of 19th century Southern politician John C. Calhoun, died March 15 at a nursing home in Amesbury, Mass. The cause of death was not reported.

Born in Norwich, Conn., and raised in North Carolina, Elwell became intrigued by Calhoun, a congressman and vice president under two presidents who became the preeminent antebellum political figure of the South and later a symbol of the lost cause of defending slavery.

After college at the University of North Carolina, and a decade of researching Calhoun, Elwell wrote “John C. Calhoun: American Portrait.” It was published in 1951 under her maiden name, Margaret Louise Coit.

Elwell published seven more historical books, including “Sweep Westward, 1829-1849,” “Andrew Jackson” and “Mr. Baruch,” a biography of financier Bernard Baruch.


She taught English, history and political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey and Bunker Hill Community College in Massachusetts. She also worked as a freelance newspaper reporter.