Bancroft, George Bancroft, George, 1800–1891, American historian and public official, b. Worcester, Mass. He taught briefly at Harvard and then at the Round Hill School in Northampton, Mass., of which he was a founder and proprietor. He then turned definitively to writing. His article (Jan., 1831) in the North American Review attacking the Bank of the United States delighted Jacksonian Democrats, and in 1834 Bancroft became an avowed apostate from New England Federalism. In that year also appeared the first volume of his monumental work, A History of the United States (10 vol., 1834–74; revised into 6 vol. by the author in 1876 and 1883–85). As a reward for his speeches and writings for the Democratic cause he was appointed (1837) collector of the port of Boston by President Martin Van Buren, and as the dispenser of the patronage of that office Bancroft was the Democratic boss in Massachusetts. He was defeated for the governorship in 1844, but President Polk, whom he had helped nominate, made him Secretary of the Navy. In that post (Mar., 1845–
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