Letters between George Bancroft and Jared Sparks, 1823-32 Posted

I have transcribed the Correspondence of George Bancroft and Jared Sparks, 1823-32 in support of the research I did on the Round Hill School at Northampton, the school that Alfred’s brother George attended before going to Harvard.

The correspondence between George Bancroft and Jared Sparks from 1823 to 1832 offers a unique insight into the intellectual and cultural development of early 19th-century America. Both men were Harvard graduates who made significant contributions to American literature and history.

The letters exchanged between Bancroft and Sparks reveal a rich tapestry of personal ambition, scholarly pursuits, and the evolving landscape of American intellectualism. Bancroft, initially an educator, shifted his focus to literature and history, while Sparks, known for his historical works, also managed the influential North American Review.

One prominent theme in their correspondence is their collaboration on the North American Review. Sparks, who purchased and edited the periodical, aimed to elevate its status in American literature. Bancroft, contributing articles, often discussed potential topics and shared his literary creations with Sparks. Their discussions highlight the challenges and triumphs of editing and publishing in that era, showcasing their dedication to fostering a national literary identity.

Both Bancroft and Sparks were deeply invested in historical scholarship. Bancroft’s work would later culminate in his multi-volume “History of the United States,” while Sparks focused on collecting and editing important historical documents, such as the writings of George Washington. Their letters reflect their meticulous research, exchange of historical sources, and their commitment to preserving and interpreting American history.

The correspondence also provides glimpses into the broader intellectual climate of the time. The letters reveal their thoughts on contemporary political and social issues, their travels, and interactions with other prominent figures of the day. Through personal reflections, we see the growth of their ideas and their influence on each other’s work.

The letters between George Bancroft and Jared Sparks are more than mere historical artifacts; they are windows into the minds of two influential figures whose work shaped the course of American literature and history. Their dedication to scholarship and their collaborative efforts underscore the importance of intellectual exchange in the development of a national cultural identity. Through their correspondence, we gain a deeper understanding of the foundations upon which American historical and literary scholarship was built.


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