The Aug. 20 obituary of Pendleton Herring misspelled the name of political scientist Austin Ranney. (Published 08/21/04).
Pendleton Herring, a political scientist whose long career helped shape the ways Americans have understood their national government since the 1920s, died of pneumonia Aug. 17 in Princeton, N.J. He was 100.
Though his name is unknown to most Americans, his thinking has inspired generations of scholars and has been enshrined in the very structure of the U.S. government. After World War II, Dr. Herring was the chief intellectual architect of the National Security Act of 1947, which led to a dramatic reorganization of the military and intelligence branches of the federal government, including the creation of the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency.
In the 1920s, while completing his doctoral dissertation at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Herring was one of the first scholars to make a systematic study of lobbying in Congress. Between 1929 and 1941, he wrote six books, some of which are still taught in colleges and are considered authoritative studies of American government. Later, as president of the Social Science Research Council, he worked to make the social sciences, and political science in particular, more intellectually rigorous and more useful to both government officials and the public.
According to Austin Janney, an emeritus professor of political science at the University of California at Berkeley, Dr. Herring exerted a "greater influence on social science than anyone in his generation."
His lifelong study of American democracy gave greater force to his denunciations of McCarthyism in the early 1950s. Without attacking Sen. Joseph McCarthy by name in a 1953 speech that is still circulated on scholarly Web sites, Dr. Herring forthrightly condemned "political hacks" who were "making careers for themselves through exploitation of public concern with communist contagion."
Dr. Herring's interest in American politics emerged early in life. On March 4, 1913, when he was only 9, he witnessed the presidential inauguration of Woodrow Wilson. Besides serving two terms as president, Wilson is considered the father of modern political science. In later years, Dr. Herring would edit his papers and serve as president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.
He was born Edward Pendleton Herring in Baltimore on Oct. 27, 1903, the son of a physician. As a teenager, he spent three summers as a cook on board freighters that traveled the world, developing an ease with people that would serve him throughout life.
A man of wide and cultivated interests, he received a bachelor's degree in English from Johns Hopkins in 1925 and was art editor of his college humor magazine. While studying for his doctorate in political science, which he received in 1928, he asked his professors for permission to interview congressmen and lobbyists about the impact of special interests in Congress.
It was considered a revolutionary departure from standard academic practice of the time, in which research was conducted in libraries. He traveled from Baltimore and strolled through the corridors of Capitol Hill.
"I remember distinctly knocking on a very large door that was opened by a little man with a florid countenance," he recalled in a 1978 interview published in "Political Science in America: Oral Histories of a Discipline."
It "was only after we had been talking for some time and he had likened lobbyists to coyotes that I realized he was John Nance Garner," an influential Texas congressman and the future vice president.
Dr. Herring's first book, "Group Representation Before Congress" (1929), was the earliest comprehensive study of lobbying. From 1928 to 1946, he was on the faculty of Harvard University, where he expanded the study of public administration, or how government policies are enacted. In "The Politics of Democracy" (1940), he rejected the idea of ideologically polarized political parties in the United States, showing that parties are more successful when they aim toward the center.
His 1941 study, "The Impact of War: American Democracy Under Arms," examining how the military and the executive branch interact, influenced the postwar realignment of the federal government.
During World War II, Dr. Herring was often in Washington, consulting with the Bureau of the Budget and other agencies. He analyzed the administrative structures of the Navy and War departments and later received the Navy's Distinguished Civilian Service Award. In 1946, the secretary general of the newly formed United Nations named him director of a commission that sought to limit the spread of atomic weapons.
Working closely with Navy Secretary James V. Forrestal and members of the Truman administration, Dr. Herring helped design the framework of the National Security Act of 1947, which unified the armed forces under the secretary of defense for the first time. It also created the Air Force, previously part of the Army, and the CIA.
By 1948, Dr. Herring was president of the Social Science Research Council, a think tank that examines public policy and social issues. Under his guidance, political science was transformed from an awkward melding of philosophy and government to a behavioral science that drew on other academic disciplines. After retiring from the council in 1968, Dr. Herring spent several years as director of a fellowship program for the international study of politics.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he made trips to several democracies around the world, including Nigeria, Mexico, India and Turkey, to write scholarly studies of their systems of government. Last year, two months before his own centenary, he spoke in a booming voice at the 100th anniversary meeting of the American Political Science Association in Washington.
Dr. Herring had lived in Princeton since 1966. He enjoyed travel and also played the recorder in amateur musical groups with his first wife, Katharine Channing, who died in 1969.
Painting was among his hobbies, and he was expert enough to have several public exhibits. He also published two volumes of poetry, containing about 250 poems, after he had turned 80.
"He was a man of endless interests and avocations, which he carried on at a much higher level than most of us would," said Fred I. Greenstein, an emeritus professor of politics at Princeton University. "He was someone who had a very richly upholstered mind."
Survivors include his wife, Virginia Staman Wood of Princeton, whom he married in 1971; two sons from his first marriage, Dr. H. James Herring of Princeton and Thomas S. Herring of Wareham, Mass.; five grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; and a brother.
As for Dr. Herring's own politics, his son James described him as "a staunch Democrat" who "really did not like political arguments, interestingly enough."
"In effect," Greenstein added, "he understood that this is a complex and demanding nation. Democracy takes a lot of give-and-take."