With a distinctive crown of glorious gray hair, George Bancroft (1800-1891) was born in Worcester, Massachusetts and was considered one of the first great American historians of the 1800s.
"Bancroft had a mastery of the facts (and has been) rarely, if ever, equalled since," praised biographer Robert Canary.
Bancroft was known for strong self-discipline throughout his life. At a young age, he walked to and from school, two miles each way. He loved to read and was inspired by the philosophy of John Locke, Johann von Goethe, and the Greek classics.
"Beauty itself is but the sensible image of the infinite," he once said. Educated at Harvard, he gained a doctorate in Germany, and founded Massachusetts' Round Hill School for boys.
Bancroft observed: "If reason is a universal faculty, the decision of the common mind is the nearest criterion of truth." In 1834, he completed the first of ten volumes of History of the United States, a patriotic celebration of freedom and democracy.
Appointed secretary of the Navy by President James Polk, Bancroft helped establish the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland with a student body of 50 midshipmen in 1845. He also directed the start of the Mexican War.
"The public is wiser than the wisest critic," he said.
Bancroft was a strong supporter of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and delivered the official eulogy for Lincoln to Congress.
There is glory in all things.