Sunday, December 30, 2007

Richard Hildreth 1807-1865 ....... The first to write a no nonsense history of the United States..

Richard Hildreth was the first to really write a VERY detailed history of the United States and not romanticise it.

Here is the most famous batch of books he ever wrote. the History of Nations in 6 volumes. This edition was published in 1877.

A very delicate man who had chronically bad health his entire life.Originally from Massachusetts, Hildreth moved to the south in the 1840's and saw many of the horrors of slavery. His first books were on those horrors.
He wrote on the History of Banking and his masterpiece was this set of books. It was written between bouts of illness. In fact it was republished by a family member in its complete form in 1877.

I looked to see what edition Harvard had and I see that their set is the same as mine from 1877. So I am taking a guess here that it was finally republished posthumously by the family in 1877-1879 in a complete form.

The first 3 volumes were originally published by him in 1851 and the rest followed over the next few years. So I guess the entire set was difficult to get and this was created in the 1870's.

Hildreth was famous for not romanticising the history of the period in a more no nonsense form, using contemporary sources. Although it is rather dry, it is quite fascinating to read.
Today he is a historian long forgotten. But many of the histories written in the later 19th and 20th centuries used him often as a source.