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[117] that Sparks should have had the appointment but said that Blair's selection was demanded by the politicians.

The writings of Washington now occupied Sparks's time, but before they began to appear he brought out The life of Gouverneur Morris (1832), in three volumes. In 1834 appeared Volume II of The life and writings of George Washington, and the rest of the twelve volumes followed regularly until the series was complete in 1837. The last to appear was the biography, the first volume in the set. The general verdict of the day was that it was a work worthy of the exalted subject. From 1836 to 1840 was published The works of Benjamin Franklin, in ten volumes, and between 1834 and 1838 came the first series, and between 1844 and 1847 the second series, of The Library of American biography, in all twenty-five volumes. In 1853 he issued The correspondence of the American Revolution, a series of letters to Washington in four volumes.

Sparks's letters are full of his greater plan, and he recurred to the idea again and again until he was an old man, but he did not carry out his purpose. In fact, Sparks suffered an eclipse about 1840. After that date he did little besides editing the second series of the American biography and writing several pamphlets and addresses. From 1838 to 1849 he was professor of history at Harvard, but the conditions were such that he had more than half his time for writing. From 1849 to 1853 he was Harvard's president, retiring to do literary work. It is hard to explain the paucity of results during these last years without assuming that he had lost his zeal after the achievement of his first great work, the Washington cycle. He died in 1866.

As a historian Sparks is to be measured by the American biography, the best work of the kind then prepared. Even here his chief service was as an editor; for he wrote comparatively few of the individual sketches. Those he did write, however, were well done. His greatest editorial achievement was the Washington, an epoch—making work. It set a new standard of scholarship, founded upon accurate and broad knowledge, for American students of history. Edward Everett spoke truly when he said of it in The North American review: ‘The American press has produced no work of higher value.’

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