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Grandson of Pulitzer Prize Naval Historian Charged With Theft

The grandson of Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison allegedly stole 34 boxes of materials from the Navy Archives in Washington, D.C.

The grandson of Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison allegedly stole 34 boxes of materials from the Navy Archives in Washington, D.C. Credit: File|Patch
The grandson of Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison allegedly stole 34 boxes of materials from the Navy Archives in Washington, D.C. Credit: File|Patch
A Crofton man was arrested Tuesday and charged in federal court with stealing government property -- 34 boxes of maps, charts, negatives, illustrations, photographs and textual materials -- from the Navy Archives in Washington, D.C.

Samuel Loring Morison, 69, is the grandson of former naval historian and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Samuel Eliot Morison who died in 1976.

According to The Capital Gazette, some of the documents included research and files that had belonged to Samuel L. Morison’s grandfather and were used to write “The History of United States Naval Operations in World War,” published in 15 volumes between 1947 and 1962.

The elder Morison served as a private in the U.S. Army during World War I, though not overseas, according to a biography written about him on the Naval History and Heritage website. He became a professor at Harvard University in 1925. Morison also served as a lieutenant commander of the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II and was promoted to rear admiral after he retired.

He received two Pulitzer Prizes, both in the category of biography for his works Admiral of the Ocean Sea (1943), a biography of Christopher Columbus, and John Paul Jones -- written in 1959, awarded in 1960).

CBS DC reports that Samuel L. Morison called his grandfather his “idol.”

The recent theft allegations are not the first federal crimes with which Samuel L. Morison has been charged. In 1985, Morison was convicted of espionage and stealing government property, according to The Capital Gazette.

Morison had leaked three spy satellite photographs, depicting the Soviet Navy’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, to British military magazine Jane’s Defence Weekly, CBS DC reports. At the time, he was employed as an intelligence analyst for the Navy. Morison was sentenced to two years in prison and was pardoned by President Bill Clinton in 2001.

The Capital Gazette reports that charging documents state Morison was a part-time researcher at the Navy Archives between July 2010 and February 2013 and had extensive access to the files.

Morison began his employment at the facility when he became involved in producing a history of the Navy’s role in the war on terror, according to The Baltimore Sun. The materials in question were missing for a year and were first reported as missing in February 2013. The newspaper reports the first tip to the documents’ whereabouts came a year later when “Morison had contacted a bookseller who agreed to take $5,000 worth of the papers and sell them on a consignment basis at his shop and through eBay.”

A search warrant was issued for Morison’s home on May 21, Capital Gazette reports, where the 34 boxes of materials were collected.

CBS DC reports that Morison directed questions to his attorney, Jim Wyda, who wrote in an email that he and Morison look forward to addressing allegations in court.

Morison was arrested Tuesday but released pending trial. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted for stealing government property.
Harford County Native June 12, 2014 at 09:03 AM
Really surprised that a government agency would hire someone that has stolen from them before. Having been convicted of espionage and stealing government property even though he was pardoned by Clinton he should have not been allowed another job in government.

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