Frederick Palmer was born in Pleasantville, Pennsylvania, on 29th January, 1873. Palmer attended Allegheny College in Meadville, before becoming a journalist in New York City. He eventually joined the New York World and in 1897 he covered the Greco-Turkish War. Palmer also reported on the Philippine-American War (1899), Boxer Rebellion (1900) and the Boer War (1901-02).
Palmer who also worked for Collier's Weekly, Everybody's Magazine and the New York Globe also reported on the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905) and the Balkan War in 1912. While in Mexico City in 1914 he was arrested while covering the Tampico Affair.
On the outbreak of the First World War Palmer went to the Western Front. Other journalists there included Floyd Gibbons, Richard Harding Davis, Philip Gibbs, Percival Phillips, Wythe Williams, William Beach Thomas, Albert Rhys Williams, Henry Perry Robinson, Herbert Russell, Damon Runyon, Edwin L. James and William Bolitho.
When the United States entered the war in 1917 General John Pershing asked him to take on the task of press accreditation for the American Expeditionary Force (AEF). He agreed to the task and was accorded the rank of Colonel. He immediately clashed with the journalists Heywood Broun of the New York Tribune and Ruth Hale of the Chicago Tribune. They arrived with the first U.S. troop-bearing convoy. Their first articles covered the arrival at Saint-Nazaire but Palmer sat on their stories for five days on the theory that the arrival of the convoy would be of crucial interest to the enemy. When Broun complained, Palmer offered to resign his commission if any of his critics would take over his thankless job. Palmer subsequently became the first war correspondent to win the U.S. Army's Distinguished Service Medal.
Frederick Palmer, who published an autobiography, With My Own Eyes (1933) died on 2nd September, 1958.
Heywood Broun wanted to write what he saw. At first he confined his protests to a special salute when handing copy to the head censor. Major Frederick Palmer, a famous correspondent of the Russo-Japanese War and other wars. The salute consisted of a wave of his hand from the forelock, accompanied by an ironical smile. He succeeded in getting through a few lines about an order forbidding purchase of champagne by men of the lower ranks but little else.