Bancroft, George (1800-1891), a United States historian and statesman. He has been called the "father of American history" for his monumental 10-volume A History of the United States (1834-74; revised in 6 volumes, 1883-85). A milestone in historical writing, it also was the embodiment of the nationalistic, democratic spirit of 19th-century America. As secretary of the navy under President Polk, 1845-46, Bancroft helped to found the U.S. Naval Academy and directed American naval actions early in the Mexican War.
Bancroft was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard University in 1817 and received a doctorate from Göttingen University, Germany, in 1820. After returning to the United States in 1822, Bancroft taught briefly at Harvard and then opened a progressive school in Northampton, Massachusetts. In 1831 he turned to politics and writing, ardently supporting the Democratic party. His first political office was that of collector of the port of Boston, to which he was appointed by President Van Buren in 1837.
Bancroft served as minister to Great Britain (1846-49) and to Prussia (1867-74). During these years, he searched through archives at home and abroad, reading original documents and collecting material for his history of the United States. Bancroft's other writings include Literary and Historical Miscellanies (1855) and Martin Van Buren to the End of His Public Career (1889).
Bancroft was elected to the Hall of Fame for Great Americans in 1910.