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Bancroft, George

SKU: AUT338

$75.00



Autograph Slip Writing Signed

"George Bancroft (October 3, 1800 - January 17, 1891) was an American historian and statesman who was prominent in promoting secondary education both in his home state and at the national level. During his tenure as U.S. Secretary of the Navy, he established the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1845. Among his best-known writings is the magisterial series, History of the United States, from the Discovery of the American Continent.

His entry into politics came in 1837 with his appointment by Martin Van Buren as Collector of Customs of the Port of Boston. In this position, two of Bancroft's appointees were Orestes Brownson and Nathaniel Hawthorne. In 1844, he was the Democratic candidate for the governorship of Massachusetts, but he was defeated. In 1845, in recognition for his support at the previous Democratic convention, he entered Polk's cabinet as Secretary of the Navy, serving until 1846, when for a month he was acting Secretary of War.

During his short period in the cabinet, he established the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, gave the orders which led to the occupation of California, and sent Zachary Taylor into the contested land between Texas and Mexico. He also continued his pleadings for the annexation of Texas as extending "the area of freedom," and, though a Democrat, opposed slavery.

The Naval Academy was devised and completely set at work by Bancroft alone, who received for the purpose all the appropriations for which he asked. Congress had never been willing to establish a naval academy. Bancroft studied the law to ascertain the powers of the Secretary of the Navy, and found that he could order the place where midshipmen should wait for orders. He could also direct the instructors to give lessons to them at sea, and by law they had power to follow them to the place of their common residence on shore. With a close economy, the appropriation of the year for the naval service met the expense, and the secretary of war ceded an abandoned military post to the navy.

So when Congress came together they found the midshipmen that were not at sea comfortably housed at Annapolis, protected from the dangers of idleness and city life, and busy at a regular course of study. Seeing what had been done, Congress accepted the school, which was in full operation, and granted money for the repairs of the buildings. Bancroft introduced some new professors of great merit into the corps of instructors, and he suggested a method by which promotion should depend, not on age alone, but also on experience and capacity; but this scheme was never fully developed or applied. Bancroft was also influential in obtaining additional appropriations for the United States Naval Observatory.

He likewise made himself the authority on the Oregon boundary dispute, with the result that in 1846 he was sent as minister plenipotentiary to London, where he lived in constant companionship with the historian Macaulay and the poet Hallam. With the election of Zachary Taylor his post was not renewed; on his return to the United states in 1849 he withdrew from public life, residing in New York and writing history. While in New York, Bancroft acted as a founding member of the American Geographical Society and served as the society's first president for nearly three years (Feb. 21, 1852-Dec. 7, 1854).

In April 1864, at Bancroft's request, President Lincoln wrote out what would become the fourth of five known manuscripts of the Gettysburg Address. Mr. Bancroft planned to include this copy in "Autograph Leaves of Our Country's Authors," which he planned to sell at a Soldiers' and Sailors' Sanitary Fair in Baltimore.

Bancroft was elected an Associate Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1863. In 1866, He was chosen by Congress to deliver the special eulogy on Lincoln; and in 1867 he was appointed minister to Berlin, where he remained until his resignation in 1874. Then he lived in Washington, D.C., summering at Rose Cliff, Newport, Rhode Island.

His latest official achievements are considered the greatest. In the San Juan arbitration he displayed great versatility and skill, winning his case before the emperor with brilliant ease. The naturalization treaties, named the "Bancroft treaties" in his honor, which he negotiated successively with Prussia and the other north German states were the first international recognition of the right of expatriation, a principle since incorporated in the law of nations.He died in 1891.Prior to his death, he was the last surviving member of the Polk cabinet.

The United States Navy has named several ships USS Bancroft, as well as the fleet ballistic missile submarine USS George Bancroft (SBN-643), after Bancroft, and the mid-19th century United States Coast Survey schooner USCS Bancroft also was named for him. The dormitory at the United States Naval Academy, Bancroft Hall, is named after him as well. Bancroft is one of 23 famous names on the $1 Educational currency note of 1896"