Books: First Historian

When the sailship Belle reached Manhattan in the summer of 1822, it set ashore the pride of Harvard -22-year-old George Bancroft, fresh from conversations with Goethe, Byron and Humboldt, bursting with the fruits of three years' theological study in Germany. But welcoming members of Harvard's divinity school started back in alarm when, instead of the prim, austere youth of three years before, there stepped ashore a lisping, velveteen-trousered popinjay who clasped Harvard's dean in a Continental embrace and bussed him soundly on both cheeks. At that embarrassing moment none could foresee that in the next 69 years...

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