The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XV. Later Historians

§ 30. Henry Adams

The historical career of Henry Adams falls into two periods. One of them began with his return from London in 1868, where he had been private secretary to his father, then minister to Great Britain, and continued until 1892, when he turned his back on all he had been doing and began again what he termed his “education.” The second extended from that change of purpose to his death. The editorship of The North American Review (1869–76) and an assistant-professorship in history at Harvard (1870–77) ushered in the first period. Teaching did not suit him and he resigned because he felt that his efforts were failures. His mind was too original to go through life in the routine of college instruction. He now turned to American history, producing by much industry in fourteen years the following books: Documents Relating to New England Federalism (1877) Life of Albert Gallatin (1879), Writings of Albert Gallatin (1879), John Randolph (1882), History of the United States during the Administrations of Jefferson and Madison (9 vols., 1889–91), and Historical Essays (1891). The best scholarship and excellent literary form characterize all these books. No better historical work has been done in this country. Yet the books were little read and the author became discouraged. He concluded that what he had been doing was without value to the world, since it was not noticed by the world.