Bancroft, and the Treason School of History

by Anton Chaitkin and John C. Smith, Jr.

Printed in the American Almanac, November, 1997

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George Bancroft made himself a favorable place in history, not by his great works, but by the control that he and his Anglophile faction have exercised over the historical profession itself. On the campus of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Bancroft has been falsely honored as the founder of that institution. And America-hater Charles Beard praised falsehood when he wrote of Bancroft's historical writings, that ``his long and arduous researches gave his work a value which time has not destroyed.''

From the time of his Essex Junto-financed study under Friederich Schleiermacher in Germany, George Bancroft learned to use Romanticism and Popular Democracy to subvert Classical concepts of republicanism. While praising Friedrich Schiller--the greatest moral hero for German immigrants to America--Bancroft distorted Schiller as a Romantic, equating him with Bancroft's European companion, Lord Byron. The Bancroft gang's allies, such as Thomas Carlyle, translated Schiller into English as a dripping Romantic, effectively banning his Prometheanism from English-language readers.

Bancroft wrote a 10-volume American history, covering the period from Columbus up to the founding of the Federal government of the United States. We shall inspect a sample of this work.

On events in 1688, Bancroft wrote,

``The insurrection in Massachusetts, which had overthrown the dominion of Andros, had sprung spontaneously from the people, and it insisted on the resumption of the charter. But among the magistrates, and especially among the ministers, some distrusted every popular movement, and sought to control a revolution of which they feared the tendency. Especially Cotton Mather, claiming only English liberties, and not charter liberties, and selfishly jealous of popular power, was eager to thwart the design. And ... the charter magistrates, in April 1689, joining to themselves `the principal inhabitants' of Boston, constituted themselves `a council for the safety of the people,' and `humbly' waited `for direction of the crown of England.'...

``When, in May, the convention of the people assembled, they were jealous of their ancient privileges.... [T]he popular party, jealous of the disposition of Increase Mather,'' added, to serve alongside Increase Mather, ``in the agency for the colony, Sir Henry Ashurst and two of their [the `popular party's'] own number, the patriot Elisha Cooke, and the equally trustworthy but less able Thomas Oakes.''

--George Bancroft, History of the United States of America, From the Discovery of the Continent, 1880 edition, Vol. IV, pp. 50-51.

Bancroft goes on to describe the Salem village witch-hunting hysteria, and the court trials, mainly blaming Cotton Mather for fanning the flames of hysteria.

In this passage, Bancroft singles out for attack the leaders of the republican, anti-oligarchical party in colonial Massachusetts, Increase Mather and his son Cotton Mather.

The Mathers and their allied patriotic conspirators tightly organized the 1689 insurrection which overthrew the tyrannical rule of the British governor, Sir Edmund Andros. Bancroft calls it ``spontaneous.'' But royalist Edward Randolph wrote that ``this [Cotton] Mather had a meeting of Arm'd men at his house the night before they entred upon their strange worke'' of the uprising. The leaders read to the assembled insurrectionists Cotton Mather's charges against Andros, Randolph, and others, who soon surrendered.

Bancroft's so-called ``popular party'' was the colonial wealthy merchant oligarchy, counterattacking the patriot leaders, using the street mob. Mather's enemy Elisha Cooke, the largest mill owner in Boston, secured a ``democratic'' legal amendment taking away the right to vote from those not possessing a £20 rateable estate. As town tax commissioner, Cooke himself then rendered assessments determining who could vote. Through the Cooke party's efforts, William Stoughton, a hard-line hysteria-promoting judge in the witch trials, became acting governor; Stoughton appointed Cooke to the ruling Council and to a judgeship in Superior Court. The witch-hunting ended more or less completely, when Increase Mather, returning from his battles with the authorities in England, wrote that only scientific proof, as he saw it, of witchcraft, not hearsay, must be accepted in a court.

George Bancroft's family background is relevant in these historical matters. His paternal grandfather, Samuel Bancroft, was an ardent partisan and factional ally of Calvinist thunderer Jonathan Edwards. Although Edwards attacked Cotton Mather as ``not orthodox,'' Edwards himself was an apostle of the British anti-Christian philosopher John Locke, for whom human liberty meant only Free Trade. Thus, when Aaron Bancroft, George's father, moved from support of Jonathan Edwards to leadership of the (anti-Trinity) Unitarians, he could keep what was essential--worship of the unbridled power of British bankers and cartel owners, known today as ``the magic of the marketplace.''

- The naval history swindle -

It is an outrage against truth that George Bancroft should be credited with ``founding'' the U.S. Naval Academy, rather than being seen as its subverter. The Academy came into existence as the victory of the very nationalist grouping which Bancroft and his faction worked to destroy.

Bancroft, Polk, and other partisans of British Free Trade succeeded in extinguishing the charter of the Bank of the United States in March 1836. Four months later, the Bank's president, nationalist leader Nicholas Biddle, arranged to fund a tour of Europe for the patriotic scientist Alexander Dallas Bache, for the American to meet and coordinate efforts with the scientific elite of continental Europe.

Bache consolidated an alliance with Germany's Carl F. Gauss, Alexander von Humboldt, and the leading U.S. scientists, and Army and Navy men. Bache's American scientific organization coincided with the nationalist, anti-British faction in both the Whig and Democratic parties. Opposing the Bache group was an empiricist, pro-oligarchical clique led by Naval officer Matthew Fontaine Maury--who was Secretary of the Navy Bancroft's chief adviser.

The Free Trade and Southern-dominated Congress had long blocked the establishment of a Naval Academy. The Biddle-Bache grouping, based in Philadephia, succeeded in arranging that a school should be established within the naval hospital there, conveniently under the overall command of Commodore James Biddle, brother of Nicholas. Alexander Dallas Bache's personal scientific assistant, the astronomer/mathematician William Chauvenet, was installed as the chief teacher.

Bache had a very strong influence in Washington by 1845. For example, Bache's uncle, George M. Dallas, was U.S. Vice President, and Bache's brother-in-law, Robert Walker, was Secretary of the Treasury! In 1843, Bache had been appointed chief of the U.S. Coastal Survey, and was making that agency the nation's leading funder and sponsor of scientific research. There was thus overwhelming backing for Bache's 1845 proposal to Naval Secretary Bancroft, that his Philadelphia naval school should become the national Academy.

The deal was struck with Congress, and with the Army, such that the Philadelphia institution was moved onto an Army base at Annapolis, Maryland, and was declared to be the U.S. Naval Academy. Bache's assistant Chauvenet, an exponent of the method and works of Gauss, organized the curriculum of the new Academy.

But Naval Secretary Bancroft appointed, as the first superintendent at Annapolis, the wretched naval officer Franklin Buchanan. The Bankroft-Buchanan-Maury tradition, pro-imperial and Anglophile, eventually sabotaged the Academy's role as a center of science and strategy. Marylander Franklin Buchanan deserted his country and commanded ships for the Confederacy in the Civil War. Virginian Matthew Fontaine Maury was chief scientist for the Confederacy; Maury fled the country and became coordinator of Mexican immigration for Emperor Maximilian, the regime installed by the Anglo-French invasion of Mexico during the American Civil War.

While Bache led President Lincoln's military intelligence team, George Bancroft stalked the streets of Washington, spreading anti-Lincoln gossip. Thus, knowledgeable patriots have suggested that Bancroft Hall at Annapolis, should be renamed Bache Hall, out of respect for historical truth.

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The preceding article is a rough version of the article that appeared in The American Almanac. It is made available here with the permission of The New Federalist Newspaper. Any use of, or quotations from, this article must attribute them to The New Federalist, and The American Almanac

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