North American Scholar
A.B. Harvard, 1817; Ph.D. Göttingen, 1820; LL.D, 1870; D.C.L. Oxford, 1849.
- Professional Experience:
Tutor Gk. Harvard, 1822-3; founded (with Cogswell) and taught at The Round Hill School (Northampton, MA), 1823-31; Sec. Navy, 1845-6; Minister to Court of St. James's, 1846-9; Minister to Berlin, 1867-74; pres. AHA, 1885.
Translations: Buttmann's Greek Grammar (Boston, 1824); Jacob's Latin Reader (Northampton, MA, 1825); Zumpt's Latin Grammar (New York, 1829); A. H. L. Heeren's Reflections on the Politics of Ancient Greece (Boston, 1824) and A History of Political Systems of Europe (Boston, 1830); Cornelius Nepos. Vitae (Boston, 1826); "The Value of Classical Learning," North American Review 19 (July 1824) 125-37; review of Bockh's Economy of Athens, North American Review 32 (Apr. 1831) 344-67; "Slavery in Rome," North American Review 39 (Oct. 1834) 413-37; History of the United States, 10 vols. (Boston, 1834-74).
George Bancroft, together with Edward Everett and Joseph Green Cogswell, endeavored in the early national period to elevate the standards of American classical learning by introducing German scholarship and methods of instruction. He was the first American to earn the Ph.D. in classics from Göttingen, with an array of nine theses and defenses of the theses. He was disliked by students and colleagues alike for his Germanophilia, continental manners, and efforts to import the German lecture method and standards. Emerson wrote of him, "He hath sadly disappointed great expectations." At his Round Hill School he translated a number of German schoolbooks and Heeren's work on Greek politics. Frustrated by the negative reaction in academic circles, he abandoned the field for politics, the writing of American history, and diplomacy. He was the first great American historian and also pursued a diplomatic career of note.
Robert H. Canary, George Bancroft (New York, 1974); Lilian Handlin, George Bancroft, the Intellectual as Democrat (New York, 1984); DAB 1:564-65; M. A. de Wolfe Howe, The Life and Letters of George Bancroft 2 vols. (New York, 1908); Orie William Long, Literary Pioneers: Early American Explorers of European Culture (Cambridge, 1935); Die Mittwochs-Gesellschaft im Kaiserreich: Protokolle aus dem geistigen Deutschland 1863-1919, ed. Gerhard Besier (Berlin, 1990); Rus-sel B. Nye, George Bancroft, Brahmin Rebel (New York, 1945); Goldwin Smith, Reminiscences, ed. Arnold Haultain (New York, 1910).
- Author: Meyer Reinhold