The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.XV. Later Historians
§ 13. The Great SubjectThe Age of Discovery and Exploration
Reverence for worthy deeds or men characterized the histories written by the men mentioned in the preceding section. To them succeeded a group who were carried away by what John Carter Brown called “the great subject,” that is, the age of discovery and exploration. Columbus and the men and things of his age were their chief interest. Some of them were collectors of rare books in this field, others were historians merely, and still others were both collectors and writers. The efforts of all were closely interrelated. The significance of the group is that here was the first theme on which the American historians made an exhaustive search into the original sources of information and wrote out their conclusions with acute reasoning regardless of preconceived opinions. It was a transition phase from the old to the new school.