previous next

[115] had valuable aid from other men, he was the force that brought these others together; and until the time of his death he was the leader in the actual work of the society. Belknap himself said that he got the idea from John Pintard of New York. The project was launched in 1791, in accordance with plans prepared by Belknap. The membership was limited to thirty corresponding and thirty resident members, only ten of the latter being elected at first. The object was to collect, preserve, and publish historical materials. As long as he lived Belknap was a most active member, visiting nearby towns for document, supervising the publications, and finally leaving the Society his own manuscripts.

One of the friends of Belknap and Hazard—and a connection of Hazard's by marriage—was Jedidiah Morse (1761-1826), minister at Charlestown, Massachusetts. He was the author of the first American geography (1789), a book containing much more than mere geographical description. To gather the accounts of natural resources, means of communication, and statistics the author made many journeys. He also collected facts for his Annals of the American Revolution (1824), a compilation which posterity does not esteem highly. But it served its day, and was for a time widely read. Morse was probably indebted to Hazard and Belknap for the impetus that set him to writing. The latter complained that it was only Morse who could make money out of what he wrote.

When Morse published his thin work, two other men, Jared Sparks and Peter Force, were planning much greater enterprises. One was a New England man, a Harvard graduate, a minister of accepted standing, and a member of the most select literary circle of Boston. The other was a self-taught printer's boy who became publisher and editor, with a passion for collecting. Each served well the cause of historical research.

Jared Sparks was born at Willington, Connecticut, in 1789. His youth was clouded by misfortune, but his intellectual ability brought him into notice, and friends sent him to college. He took a high rank at Harvard, where he was looked upon as a man of great promise. A residence of four years in the South <*> Unitarian minister in Baltimore gave Sparks a national <*> and probably stimulated his interest in national history.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Jeremy Belknap (5)
Jedidiah Morse (4)
Jared Sparks (3)
Ebenezer Hazard (3)
Unitarian (1)
John Pintard (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1789 AD (2)
1826 AD (1)
1824 AD (1)
1791 AD (1)
1761 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: