Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) was an American poet, also known for his biography of Abraham Lincoln. Sandburg won the Pulitzer Prize three times for his writing, and is perhaps the best-loved and best-known American poet of the 20th century after Robert Frost. He was also the only poet to ever address a joint session of Congress, which he did in 1959 to honor the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth.
Sandburg was born in Illinois, the son of Swedish immigrants, and left school at the age of 13 in order to take a series of job, including driving a milk wagon. His writing career began as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News. He also volunteered for service in the Spanish American War, but never saw combat. His first collection of poetry, In Reckless Ecstasy, appeared in 1904.
Much of Carl Sandburg’s poetry is focused on the city of Chicago, where he spent much of his adult life. It was Sandburg who described Chicago as the “City of the Big Shoulders.” He also wrote three children’s books, including Rootabaga Stories, published in 1922. In 1919, he received the Pulitzer for his poetry collection Corn Huskers. The second prize came in 1940 for the second volume of his Lincoln biography, The War Years, and third Pulitzer in 1951 for Complete Poems.
In 1945, Sandburg moved to North Carolina, where he continued to write poetry. He was also a major supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, the first white to receive the NAACP’s Silver Plaque Award. He died in 1967 of natural causes.