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George Bancroft

George Bancroft



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HE Bancrofts have been settled in America

since 1632. Among the historian's ancestors were men of marked traits of character. Bancroft's grandfather, a farmer of Essex County, Massachusetts, had such a reputation for piety and judgment that he was called on to act as an umpire in the bitter dispute between Jonathan Edwards and his church at Northampton.

The father of the historian, Aaron Bancroft, a pioneer of American Unitarianism, was for fifty years pastor of the Second Church of Worcester. His distinguishing trait was 'a deep-seated abhor‘rence of anything like mental slavery.' He was an ardent student of American history and the author of an Essay on the Life of George Washington


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W. M. Sloane : George Bancroft in Society, in Politics, in Letters,' The Century Magazine,' January, 1887.

S. S. Green: George Bancroft,' Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, April 29, 1891.

A. McF. Davis: George Bancroft,' Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, vol. xxvi, 1891.

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(1807), a popular book in its own day and well worth the reading in ours. George Bancroft thought that ‘his own inclination toward history was due very much to the influence of his father.'

There is a story (probably apocryphal) that in his youth Aaron Bancroft fought at Lexington and Bunker Hill. During Shays's Rebellion, when the insurgent officers proposed to quarter themselves in private houses at Worcester, the minister guarded his own door and told a group of officers who approached that they were rebels, and that

they would obtain no entrance to his house but ‘by violence. The officers immediately rode away.

George Bancroft was born at Worcester on October 3, 1800. He prepared for college at Phillips Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire, and was graduated at Harvard in 1817. Edward Everett, the newly appointed professor of Greek, who was then studying at Göttingen, urged President Kirkland to send some graduate of marked powers to Germany with a view to his preparing himself to teach at Harvard. The choice fell on Bancroft. He spent two years at Göttingen and obtained his doctorate. Among his professors were Heeren, Dissen, Eichhorn, and Blumenbach ; Heeren's influence was the most profound and the most last

of studies was wide, including, as it did, history, German literature, Greek philosophy, natural history, Scripture interpretation, Arabic, Syriac, and Persian.


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