Albert Bushnell Hart

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Albert Bushnell Hart

Albert Bushnell Hart, Ph.D. (July 1, 1854–July 16, 1943), was an American historian, writer, and teacher. One of the first generation of professionally trained historians in the United States, a prolific author and editor of historical works, Albert Bushnell Hart became, as Samuel Eliot Morison described him, "The Grand Old Man" of American history, looking the part with his "patriarchal full beard and flowing moustaches."[1]


Hart was born in Clarksville (now Clark), Mercer County, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard University in 1880. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a classmate and friend of future U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. He studied at Paris, Berlin and Freiburg, and received his doctorate from Freiburg in 1883. That same year joined the Harvard faculty, serving as instructor in history in 1883-87, assistant professor in 1887-97, becoming professor in 1897. He remained on the faculty for 43 years, retiring in 1926. In retirement he continued to write and edit from a room in Widener Library. He maintained a summer home in New Hampshire near Mount Monadnock.[2]

Hart edited, along with Edward Channing, over the period from 1892 to 1895 a series of extracts from primary documents called the "American history leaflets; colonial and constitutional", which included titles such as "Extracts from the Sagas describing the voyages to Vinland", and "Documents illustrating the territorial development of the United States, 1584-1774". Hart was an editor of the Harvard Graduates' Magazine from 1894 to 1902. He served as president of the American Historical Association in 1909 and of the American Political Science Association in 1912. In 1914, he was appointed exchange professor at the University of Berlin.

Hart authored Formation of the Union (1892), Salmon Portland Chase (1899), Essentials of American History (1905), Slavery and Abolition (1906), and many other books. He was editor of the "American Nation" series (28 volumes, 1903–18) and other series on American history, of many source books and guides for the study of American history, and, with Andrew C. McLaughlin, of the Cyclopedia of American Government (3 volumes, 1914). He was an editor of the American Historical Review for 14 years, and president of both the American Historical Association (AHA) and the American Political Science Association. Hart edited the American Year Book from 1911 to 1920 and from 1926 to 1932. He edited a five-volume history of Massachusetts in 1927-30 and worked as the official historian of the George Washington bicentennial commission from 1926 to 1932.

In 1909, he played an important role in enabling his former student, W. E. B. Du Bois, to deliver his paper "Reconstruction and Its Benefits" to the AHA in New York. This essay was elaborated as the book Black Reconstruction in America in 1935 and proved to be a seminal work in moving historical discussion of the Reconstruction period away from the views of the Dunning School. He served as a trustee of Howard University. Though a believer in the racial inferiority of African Americans, he nevertheless opposed plans to deny black students places in the Freshman Halls at Harvard in the years following World War I.[3]

A proponent of U.S. participation in World War I, he was accused of espionage in December 1918, but the charges were determined to be the work of German propagandists trying to undermine his pro-British stance.[4]

In the fall of 1915, he serves on the Mooseheart Governing Board. He remains in that role through 1928. The 1928 edition of Seniors' Book is dedicated in his honor.

A discussion arose in 1923 as to the "Americanism" of his history textbooks Epochs of American History and National Ideals of Historically Traced. An investigating committee suggested the removal of his School History of the United States from New York City schools.[citation needed]

Hart died on July 16, 1943.[5]

Hart's efforts to collect the writings of Theodore Roosevelt[edit]

Hart was a devoted friend and follower of Theodore Roosevelt and was elected as a Roosevelt delegate to the Republican convention of 1912. He became an enthusiastic trustee and supporter of the Roosevelt Memorial Association, now called the Theodore Roosevelt Association and said that from the time of TR's death he had the idea to "present in alphabetical arrangement extracts sufficiently numerous and comprehensive to display all the phases of Roosevelt's activities and opinions as expressed by him." This work would eventually be called the Theodore Roosevelt Cyclopedia.

Professor Hart wrote Herman Hagedorn of the Association: "What we are after is the crisp, sharp, biting sparks that flew from the Roosevelt brain." Hart told the survivors of the Harvard Class of 1880 that editing the cyclopedia "will be a very interesting and agreeable service to the memory of our great classmate." From the beginning, however, the project was plagued with problems simply because Hart was very busy with many other commitments. Hart had to postpone the cyclopedia, and he asked the Association for research and clerical staff, but the Executive Committee of the Roosevelt Memorial Association delayed appropriations for the cyclopedia, because the expense was "so great," and it was not until May 1928 that a budget was approved for the cyclopedia, although the project had been publicly announced years before. Finally in 1931, Hart presented a rough draft of the cyclopedia to Hagedorn. But the book needed much more work and the elderly Hart "began to decline" and Hagedorn reported to the RMA Executive Committee that Hart could not finish the project "because of his advanced years."

It appeared in 1941 as The Theodore Roosevelt Cyclopedia edited by Albert Bushnell Hart and Herbert Ronald Ferleger.[6]

Notable Quotations[edit]

"'Good wine needs no bush', and if there were need to urge the reading of history it would be proof that history is too dull and unattractive to be read." ("How to Study History", in Studies in American Education, 1895)


  • Author
    • Introduction to the Study of Federal Government (1890) (2nd ed. 1891)[7]
    • Why the South Was Defeated in the Civil War (1891)[8]
    • Epochs of American History (3 vols.) (1891-3) (with Reuben Gold Thwaites and Woodrow Wilson). ""The Colonies, 1492-1750" (1891), "Formation of the Union, 1750-1829" (1892), "Division and Reunion, 1829-1889" (1893).[9]
    • Epoch Maps, Illustrating American History (1891)[10]
    • Practical Essays on American Government (1893)[11]
    • Studies in American Education (1895)[12]
    • Guide to the Study of American History, with Edward Channing (1897);[13] 2nd ed. with Edward Channing and Frederick Jackson Turner (1912)
    • Salmon Portland Chase (1899, in the American Statesman series)
    • Foundations of American Foreign Policy (1901)[14]
    • Actual Government (1903)
    • Slavery and Abolition (1906, in the American Nation series, covering 1831-1842)
    • National Ideals Historically Traced (1907)
    • Manual of American History, Diplomacy, and Government (1908)
    • Imagination in History (1909)[15]
    • Formation of the Union (1910)
    • The Obvious Orient (1911)
    • The Southern South (1911)
    • The War in Europe (1914); vol. 26 of the American Nation series
    • The Monroe Doctrine: An Interpretation (1916)[16]
    • New American History (1917)
    • School History of the United States (1917)
    • America at War (1917)
    • Causes of the War (1920)
    • We and Our History (1923)
  • Editor
    • American history leaflets; colonial and constitutional."[17]
    • The Romance of the Civil War (1896)
    • American History told by Contemporaries (4 vols, 1898–1901)
    • Source Readers in American History (4 vols, 1901–03)
    • Epochs of American History series (3 small text-books)
    • American Nation series (27 vols, 1903–07)
    • American Citizen series
    • Cyclopedia of American Government (3 vols.) (1914) (co-edited by Andrew C. McLaughlin)[18][19][20][21][22]
    • Colonial Children, edited with Blanche E. Hazard (1914)
    • Harper's Pictorial Library of the World War, Volume 1 (1920)
    • Commonwealth History of Massachusetts (five volumes, 1927–30; Hart also contributed essays to the collection)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Samuel Eliot Morison (1973). "Hart, Albert Bushnell". Dictionary of American Biography. Supplement Three 1941-1945. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 
  2. ^ "Albert Bushnell Hart", New York Times, June 18, 1943; accessed January 12, 2010.
  3. ^ Marsha Graham Synnott, The Half-Opened Door: Discrimination and Admissions at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, 1900-1970 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1979), 51.
  4. ^ New York Times: "Albert B. Hart of Harvard Dies", July 17, 1943; accessed January 12, 2010.
  5. ^ "Albert B. Hart of Harvard Dies", New York Times, July 17, 1943; accessed January 12, 2010; "Albert Bushnell Hart", New York Times, June 18, 1943; accessed January 12, 2010
  6. ^ "Theodore Roosevelt Cyclopedia", New York Times, July 20, 1941; accessed January 12, 2010.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ bibliographic record for "American history leaflets; colonial and constitutional"
  18. ^ "Classifying government". The Independent. Jul 6, 1914. Retrieved July 28, 2012. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ vol. 1
  21. ^ vol. 2
  22. ^ vol. 3

External links[edit]