BANKS, GEORGE LINNAEUS (1821-1881), British miscellaneous writer, was born at Birmingham on the 2nd of March 1821. After a brief experience in a variety of trades, he became at the age of seventeen a contributor to various newspapers, and subsequently a playwright, being the author of two plays, a couple of burlesques and several lyrics. Between 1848 and 1864 he edited in succession a variety of newspapers, including the Birmingham Mercury and the Dublin Daily Express, and published several volumes of miscellaneous prose and verse. He died in London on the 3rd of May 1881.
BANKS, SIR JOSEPH, Bart. (1743-1820), English naturalist, was born in Argyle Street, London, on the 13th of February 1743. His father, William Banks, was the son of a successful Lincolnshire doctor, who became sheriff of his county, and represented Peterborough in parliament; and Joseph was brought up as the son of a rich man. In 1760 he went to Oxford, where he showed a decided taste for natural science and was the means of introducing botanical lectures into the university. In 1764 he came into possession of the ample fortune left by his father, and in 1766 he made his first scientific expedition to Newfoundland and Labrador, bringing back a rich collection of plants and insects. Shortly after his return, Captain Cook was sent by the government to observe the transit of Venus in the Pacific Ocean, and Banks, through the influence of his friend Lord Sandwich, obtained leave to join the expedition in the "Endeavour," which was fitted out at his own expense. He made the most careful preparations, in order to be able to profit by every opportunity, and induced Dr Daniel Solander, a distinguished pupil of Linnaeus, to accompany him. He even engaged draughtsmen and painters to delineate such objects of interest as did not admit of being transported or preserved. The voyage occupied three years and many hardships had to be undergone; but the rich harvest of discovery was more than adequate compensation. Banks was equally anxious to join Cook's second expedition and expended large sums in engaging assistants and furnishing the necessary equipment; but circumstances obliged him to relinquish his purpose. He, however, employed the assistants and materials he had collected in a voyage to Iceland in 1772, returning by the Hebrides and Staffa. In 1778 Banks succeeded Sir John Pringle as president of the Royal Society, of which he had been a fellow from 1766, and held the office until his death. In 1781 he was made a baronet; in 1795 he received the order of the Bath; and in 1797 he was admitted to the privy council. He died at Isleworth on the 19th of June 1820. As president of the Royal Society he did much to raise the state of science in Britain, and was at the same time most assiduous and successful in cultivating friendly relations with scientific men of all nations. It was, however, objected to him that from his own predilections he was inclined to overlook and depreciate the labours of the mathematical and physical sections of the Royal Society and that he exercised his authority somewhat despotically. He bequeathed his collections of books and botanical specimens to the British Museum. His fame rests rather on what his liberality enabled other workers to do than on his own achievements.
BANKS, NATHANIEL PRENTISS (1816-1894), American politician and soldier, was born at Waltham, Massachusetts, on the 30th of January 1816. He received only a common school education and at an early age began work as a bobbin-boy in a cotton factory of which his father was superintendent. Subsequently he edited a weekly paper at Waltham, studied law and was admitted to the bar, his energy and his ability as a public speaker soon winning him distinction. He served as a Free Soiler in the Massachusetts house of representatives from 1849 to 1853, and was speaker in 1851 and 1852; he was president of the state Constitutional Convention of 1853, and in the same year was elected to the national House of Representatives as a coalition candidate of Democrats and Free Soilers. Although re-elected in 1854 as an American or "Know-Nothing," he soon left this party, and in 1855 presided over a Republican convention in Massachusetts. At the opening of the Thirty-Fourth Congress the anti-Nebraska men gradually united in supporting Banks for speaker, and after one of the bitterest and most protracted speakership contests in the history of congress, lasting from the 3rd of December 1855 to the 2nd of February 1856, he was chosen on the 133rd ballot. This has been called the first national victory of the Republican party. Re-elected in 1856 as a Republican, he resigned his seat in December 1857, and was governor of Massachusetts from 1858 to 1861, a period marked by notable administrative and educational reforms. He then succeeded George B. McClellan as president of the Illinois Central railway. Although while governor he had been a strong advocate of peace, he was one of the earliest to offer his services to President Lincoln, who appointed him in 1861 major-general of volunteers. Banks was one of the most prominent of the volunteer officers. When McClellan entered upon his Peninsular Campaign in 1862 the important duty of defending Washington from the army of "Stonewall" Jackson fell to the corps commanded by Banks. In the spring Banks was ordered to move against Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley, but the latter with superior forces defeated him at Winchester, Virginia, on the 25th of May, and forced him back to the Potomac river. On the 9th of August Banks again encountered Jackson at Cedar Mountain, and, though greatly outnumbered, succeeded in holding his ground after a very sanguinary battle. He was later placed in command of the garrison at Washington, and in November sailed from New York with a strong force to replace General B. F. Butler at New Orleans as commander of the Department of the Gulf. Being ordered to co-operate with Grant, who was then before Vicksburg, he invested the defences of Port Hudson, Louisiana, in May 1863, and after three attempts to carry the works by storm he began a regular siege. The garrison surrendered to Banks on the 9th of July, on receiving word that Vicksburg had fallen. In the autumn of 1863 Banks organized a number of expeditions to Texas, chiefly for the purpose of preventing the French in Mexico from aiding the Confederates, and secured possession of the region near the mouths of the Nueces and the Rio Grande. But his Red River expedition, March-May 1864, forced upon him by superior authority, was a complete failure. In August 1865 he was mustered out of the service, and from 1865 to 1873 he was again a representative in congress, serving as chairman of the committee on foreign affairs. A personal quarrel with President Grant led in 1872, however, to his joining the Liberal-Republican revolt in support of Horace Greeley, and as the Liberal-Republican and Democratic candidate he was defeated for re-election. In 1874 he was successful as a Democratic candidate, serving one term (1875-1877). Having rejoined the Republican party in 1876, he was United States marshal for Massachusetts from 1879 until 1888, when for the ninth time he was elected to Congress. He retired at the close of his term (1891) and died at Waltham on the 1st of September 1894.
BANKS, THOMAS (1735-1805), English sculptor, son of a surveyor who was land steward to the duke of Beaufort, was born in London on the 29th of December 1735. He was taught drawing by his father, and in 1750 was apprenticed to a wood-carver. In his spare time he worked at sculpture, and before 1772, when he obtained a travelling studentship and proceeded to Rome, he had already exhibited several fine works. Returning to England in 1779 he found that the taste for classic poetry, ever the source of his inspiration, no longer existed, and he spent two years in St Petersburg, being employed by the empress Catherine, who purchased his "Cupid tormenting a Butterfly." On his return he modelled his colossal "Achilles mourning the loss of Briseis," a work full of force and passion; and thereupon he was elected, in 1784, an associate of the Royal Academy and in the following year a full member. Among other works in St Paul's cathedral are the monuments to Captain Westcott and Captain Burges, and in Westminster Abbey to Sir Eyre Coote. His bust of Warren Hastings is in the National Portrait Gallery. Banks's best-known work is perhaps the colossal group of "Shakespeare attended by Painting and Poetry," now in the garden of New Place, Stratford-on-Avon. He died in London on the 2nd of February 1805.