This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
‘  but in any tongue.’ Emerson said of the History: ‘It is noble matter, and I am heartily glad to have it nobly treated.’ Bancroft is less than a quarter of a century dead, and these beautiful laurels are already withered. A new age has accepted other standards than his. Bancroft, our first historian who had studied in Germany, was well known at home and abroad as a hard student and a man of great learning. The abundant foot-notes in the first volumes of his history show how freely he used the sources in foreign languages. His experience in Germany led him to admire German scholarship in all its phases. At Gottingen he studied under Heeren, who was stressing the unity of history. In the preface of his first volume, Bancroft wrote: ‘The United States of America constitute an essential portion of a great political system, embracing all the political nations of the earth.’ He did not, however, try to work out this theory in his volume, but told, like others, the story of voyages, settlements, colonies, and the common struggle for freedom. His progress was leisurely. The second volume appeared three years after the first, the third in 1840. The fourth and fifth were published in 1852. The sixth came in 1854, the seventh in 1858, the eighth in 1860, the ninth in 1866, and the tenth in 1874. During these years his literary work was interrupted by political service. He was secretary of the navy from 1845 to 1846, minister to Great Britain from 1846 to 1849, and minister to Germany from 1867 to 1874. The tenth volume carried the work to the end of the Revolution; but in 1882 came two additional volumes with the title History of the formation of the Constitution of the United States. Hildreth wrote more rapidly, and his History, nearly as long as Bancroft's, seems to have been written in six years. Another group of men, by collecting materials, compiling, and editing, rendered marked service to history in the first half of the nineteenth century. Beginning to collect for their own comfort they laid the foundations of great collections which have endured and grown and are now indispensable. The men who did this work are not to be forgotten; they were as truly servants of the historic muse as those who held her stylus.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.