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David Ramsay (search for this): chapter 1.7
was wider than formerly, but it was not so deep. Of those who wrote about the Revolution, in one phase or another, the best were the Rev. William Gordon, Dr. David Ramsay, William Henry Drayton, General William Moultrie, John Marshall, and William Wirt. Less scholarly but more widely influential were Mrs. Mercy Warren and Par by Edmund Burke. It is even charged that Gordon tempered his narrative to please the feelings of his friends in England. His book is but slightly esteemed. Dr. Ramsay (1749-1815), of South Carolina, though educated to be a physician, was more a politician and litterateur than a scientist. His History of the Revolution of Souhich was very popular and ran through several editions. Three Southern books which may here be spoken of are hardly up to the standard of the state histories. Dr. Ramsay's History of South Carolina (2 vols., 1809) was not equal to his work on the Revolution. John D. Burk (d. 1808) wrote a less valuable work in his History of Vi
Theodore Parker (search for this): chapter 1.7
the memory of America lasts; and which will instantly take its place among the classics of our language. It is full of learning, information, common sense, and philosophy; full of taste and eloquence; full of life and power. You give us not wretched paste-board men; not a sort of chronological table, with the dates written out at length, after the manner of most historians;—but you give us real, individual, living, men and women, with their passions, interests, and peculiarities. Theodore Parker wrote: I think you are likely to make, what I long since told you I looked for from you, the most noble and splendid piece of historical composition, not only in English, 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
John Oldmixon (search for this): chapter 1.7
up from the bottom, and the process was necessarily slow. A third group of historians was those who undertook to write general histories of the United States. They were inspired with the spirit of nationality, whatever their views of the new Union. They wished to depict the relations of the colonies to one another and their struggle against Britain's policy of strict control. The first histories presenting a general account of the colonies came from England, where as early as 1708 John Oldmixon, in his British Empire in America, made a sorry attempt to treat English America as a whole. In 1780 George Chalmers published his Political annals of the Present United colonies, followed in 1782 by another work called Introduction to the history of the revolt of the American colonies. Chalmers was an able writer and gave at least continuity to his subject. He was, however, strongly British in sympathy, and his work was not esteemed in the United States. It stimulated more than one
Hugh Williamson (search for this): chapter 1.7
urrection, which was very popular and ran through several editions. Three Southern books which may here be spoken of are hardly up to the standard of the state histories. Dr. Ramsay's History of South Carolina (2 vols., 1809) was not equal to his work on the Revolution. John D. Burk (d. 1808) wrote a less valuable work in his History of Virginia (3 vols., 1804-05). After his death the book was continued in a fourth volume. He was an ardent Republican who rhapsodized on liberty. Dr. Hugh Williamson (1735-1819), who wrote a History of North Carolina (2 vols., 1812), was a Pennsylvanian by birth, clergyman and physician by education, merchant and politician by necessity. He lived a while in Edenton, North Carolina, was elected a member of the Continental Congress, and served in the Constitutional Convention. In 1793 he removed to New York, where he acquired a high reputation for learning. His history, however, was thin and disappointing. These men worked under the disadvanta
George Richards Minot (search for this): chapter 1.7
that appeared in this period a few are worthy of mention. Jeremy Belknap (1744-98) wrote a History of New Hampshire (three volumes, 1784-92), which is of the first rank in our historical compositions. Had its theme been more extended, it would have become a household memory in the country. Benjamin Trumbull's (1735-1820) History of Connecticut (2 vols., 1818) and Robert Proud's (1728-1813) History of Pennsylvania (2 vols., 1797-98) were of scholarly standards but heavy in style. George Richards Minot (1758– 1802), a brilliant Massachusetts lawyer, wrote a History of the Insurrection in Massachusetts (1788), dealing with Shays' Rebellion, and followed it by a continuation of Hutchinson's History of Massachusetts (2 vols., 1798-1803). The books were well written and have maintained their credit. Here should be mentioned Henry M. Brackenridge's (1786-1871) History of the Western Insurrection (1817), a fair-minded narrative of the Whisky Insurrection, which was very popular and ran
ttled and confused state that but few can think steadily upon any subject. They hear of useful designs, they give you all the encouragement which can be derived from the warmest approbation of your plan, they will even promise you assistance. Politics intrude,—kick you and your designs out of their heads; and when you appear again, why they really forgot that the matter had been mentioned to them. I have been repeatedly served so with reference to my collection. The Belknap Papers, Mass. Hist. Soc. Col., 5th Ser., vol. II, p. 12. After the war came the years of constitution-making, and then a long period during which foreign affairs occupied most minds exclusively. It was a time, also, when unusual business opportunities enthralled the best intellects in the country. Thus there were few competent persons to whom the quiet task of writing history made appeal. It is not strange that Hazard had few people to encourage him. Our post-Revolutionary period has been compared with t
y 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. In 1823 he returned to Boston to be the editor of The North American review. This journal was then languishing under the editorship of Edward Everett, but Sparks secured control and placed it on a sound basis. In 1830, when he sold his last remaining share in the enterprise, he had received $19,000 besides an annual salary of $2200. Sparks gave up the Review to devote himself t
Peter Force (search for this): chapter 1.7
ion of more than one Washington editor. It seemed a favourable time to attempt the execution of Force's scheme. He found a partner in Matthew St. Clair Clarke, clerk of the House of Representativesls of the Continental Congress, and many state laws, all previously accessible in print. It was Force's idea to make a complete collection of Revolutionary material. In 1839 the second volume of therminated by Congress itself. On the other hand, it is undeniable that Marcy did not appreciate Force's work and that he was illiberal, if not narrow-minded. Early in the series Force adopted thenscripts to make 129 bound volumes. The collection was placed in the Library of Congress, where Force's manuscripts remain unpublished. In 1879 Congress called for a report on the value of the collm the Librarian of Congress. No practical results followed. For a discussion of the value of Force's collection see Bassett, Middle group of American historians, p. 298. Aside from the Archiv
James Warren (search for this): chapter 1.7
eat Republican leader. For posterity it has value chiefly as a solid source of information. Wirt's Life of Patrick Henry (1817) is much unlike Marshall's book. It was well written—Wirt had a polished style—but it was a hasty and inadequate picture of a most important life. A better but less readable biography was William Tudor's Life of James Otis (1823). Mrs. Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1814), See also Book I, Chap. IX, and Book II. Chap. II. a sister of James Otis, was the wife of James Warren of Boston. Her three-volume History of the American Revolution (1805), a loosely written book which contained many biographical sketches, was popular and for a long time furnished the average New Englander his knowledge of the Revolution. Five years earlier had appeared the most successful historical book of the day, Weems's Life of Washington. The author was a versatile man, who could be buffoon, fiddler, parson, or hawker of his book as occasion demanded. He had not known Washington
Joseph G. Cogswell (search for this): chapter 1.7
—Mr. George Bancroft. Bancroft was born in Massachusetts in 1800 and died in Washington in 1891. Having graduated from Harvard in 1817, he went to Gottingen on funds subscribed by Harvard and its friends. Back in America in 1822 with a doctor's degree, he settled for a year at Harvard as tutor in Greek. He brought home from Europe many affectations of manner and such marked eccentricities that his influence at Harvard was undermined; at the end of a year he left, to become, with Joseph G. Cogswell, proprietor of a boys' school at Northampton, Massachusetts. As a schoolmaster Bancroft was a failure, and he retired from the school in 1831. Meanwhile, he had begun to write. School-books, translations, and articles for The North American review came out in rapid succession. By 1831 he had established the literary habit and had the reputation of being a ready and effective writer. At this time Bancroft had begun to support the Democratic party. He was accused of doing it to o
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