Men of the Time, eleventh edition/Bancroft, George
BANCROFT, George, Ph. D., LL.D., D.C.L., born at Worcester, Massachusetts, Oct. 3, 1800. He entered Harvard College in 1813, and graduated in 1817. Almost immediately afterwards he went abroad, where he remained for five years, studying at Göttingen and Berlin, and travelling through Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Great Britain, when he made the personal acquaintance of many of the leading European scholars. He received the degree of Ph. D. at Göttingen in 1820, and returning to America in 1822, was for a year Greek tutor in Harvard College. In 1823, in conjunction with Dr. Joseph Coggswell, afterwards noted as the organizer of the Astor Library in New York, he founded the Round Hill School at Northampton, Massachusetts. The same year he published a volume of poems, and in 1824 a translation of Heeren's "Politics of Ancient Greece." He was also at this time meditating and collecting materials for his "History of the United States," the first volume of which appeared in 1834. In 1835 he removed to Springfield, Massachusetts, where he resided for three years, and completed the second volume of his history. In 1838 he was appointed Collector of the Port of Boston, a position which he occupied until 1841, being also a frequent speaker at political meetings, and still keeping up his historical labours. The third volume of his history appeared in 1840. In 1844 he was the Democratic candidate for Governor of Massachusetts, but was not elected. In 1845, Mr. Polk having been elected President, Mr. Bancroft entered his Cabinet as Secretary of the Navy, and also served for a month as Acting Secretary of War. In 1846 he was sent as Minister to Great Britain, where he successfully urged upon the British Government the adoption of more liberal navigation laws, and was especially earnest in vindicating the rights of persons naturalized as citizens of the United States. During this residence in Europe he made use of every opportunity to perfect his collections of documents relating to American history. He returned to the United States in 1849, took up his residence in New York, and set about the preparation of the remainder of his history. The fourth and fifth volumes were published in 1852; the sixth appeared in 1854; the seventh in 1858; the eighth in 1860; the ninth in 1866; and the tenth late in 1874. This brings the narrative to the close of the Revolutionary War and completes the body of the work. He is still, however, engaged upon supplementary volumes, two of which were issued in 1882 under the title of "History of the Foundation of the Constitution of the United States." After his return from England he for many years devoted himself wholly to literary labour. In Feb. 1866, he delivered before Congress an address in memory of Abraham Lincoln. In May, 1867, he was appointed Minister to Prussia; in 1868 he was accredited to the North German Confederation; and in 1871 to the German Empire. He was recalled from this mission at his own request, in 1874. During his mission to Germany several important treaties were concluded with the various German States, relating especially to the naturalization of Germans in America. He ia a member of numerous learned societies at home and abroad. In 1855 he published a volume of "Miscellanies," comprising a portion of the articles which he had contributed to the North American Review. He now resides at Washington, D.C., passing his summers at Newport, Rhode Island.