Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1789-05-10
Death 1866-03-14
US
French, Dutch; Flemish, Spanish; Castilian, Italian, English, Latin

Biographical notes:

Unitarian clergyman, editor, and historian of Massachusetts.

From the description of Jared Sparks letter, 1855 April 18 [manuscript]. (Oceanside Free Library). WorldCat record id: 24095799

Jared Sparks (1789-1866) was a Unitarian clergyman, editor, and historian of Massachusetts.

From the guide to the Jared Sparks Letter, ., 18 April 1855, (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.)

American historian.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : [London], to William Vaughan, 1829 Jan. 5. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270663304

From the description of Autograph letter in third person : Charlottesville, to Thomas Jefferson, [1820] Aug. 20. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270662145

From the description of Autograph letter signed : [n.p.], to the Rev. John Pierpont, 1827 Nov. 14. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270663506

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Boston, to Noah Webster, 1827 Oct. 8. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270662332

From the description of Letter signed : Cambridge, to Harper & Brothers, 1855 May 22. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270664857

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Cambridge, to Messrs. Monroe & Co., 1852 June 16. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270662448

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Cambridge, to I.K. Tefft, 1843 Apr. 5. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270662452

From the description of Autograph letter signed : [n.p.], to Nathan Hale, "Monday" [no year]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270663509

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Cambridge, to Charles W. Bradley, 1846 Mar. 18. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270662445

Editor and author.

From the description of Jared Sparks papers, 1776-1865. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70980980

Sparks was a Unitarian minister and President of Harvard University, 1849-1853, and an American historian, especially noted for his work on the life of George Washington.

From the description of [Autograph signature] / Jared Sparks. [between late 1830s and 1846] (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 437429935

American historian and biographer of George Washington, John Ledyard, and Gouverneur Morris.

From the description of Letter : Cambridge, Mass., to Nathaniel Niles, Turin, Italy, 1848 Dec. 1. (University of California, San Diego). WorldCat record id: 32157143

Jared Sparks (Harvard, AB 1815, AM 1818) was an American historian and editor, the McClean Professor of Ancient and Modern History at Harvard University (1839-1849), and its president (1849-1853).

From the guide to the Jared Sparks collection of American manuscripts, 1582-1843., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

Jared Sparks (1789-1866) was the President of Harvard University from February 1, 1849 to February 10, 1853. He was also a Unitarian minister, editor, and historian, pioneering in the publishing of sources documents of American history.

From the description of Papers of Jared Sparks, 1820-1861, 1866. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 77072429

Jared Sparks was a clergyman, editor, historian, and president of Harvard College; he was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1837.

From the guide to the Selected papers, [ca. 1819-1863], relating to Benjamin Franklin, Circa 1819-1963, (American Philosophical Society)

Clergyman, college president, historian, and editor.

From the description of Jared Sparks collection of the correspondence of Sir Joseph Yorke, 1776-1780. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71068233

Virgil David was president of the Lawrenceville Lyceum in Western Pennsylvania.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Cambridge, Mass., to Virgil David, n.p., 1837 May 8. (University of Chicago Library). WorldCat record id: 82511187

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Cambridge, Mass., to Virgil David, n.p., 1837 May 8. (University of Chicago Library). WorldCat record id: 55822346

Epithet: historian, President of Harvard College, USA

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000001392.0x000275

Jared Sparks was a clergyman, editor, historian, and president of Harvard College; he became an American Philosophical Society member in 1837.

From the guide to the Jared Sparks selected papers, 1819-1863 Franklin Bache S. D. Bradford William Duane Peter S. Du Ponceau J. Francis Fisher George Gibbs Henry D. Gilpin Edward D. Ingraham James Mease William B. Reed Henry Stevens, Sr. Henry Stevens, Jr. Benjamin Vaughan Petty Vaughan William Vaughan There are also extracts from Sparks's journal, 1831-1841, relating to his Franklin researches. Table of contents (11 pp.). (Film 570), 1819-1863, (American Philosophical Society)

Jared Sparks (1789-1866) was an American historian and President of Harvard University from 1849 to 1853. The Mr Everett mentioned in the letter may be his predecessor at Harvard, Edward Everett, but this cannot be proven. Joseph Story was a notable attorney from Massachusetts; he was a Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1811 to 1845. Francis Lieber was a German-American jurist and political philosopher; he was editor of the Encyclopaedia Americana, to which Judge Story was a contributor.

From the guide to the Jared Sparks Letter, 1828, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)

Sparks (Harvard, AB 1815, AM 1818) was an American historian and editor, the McClean Professor of Ancient and Modern History at Harvard (1839-1849), and its president (1849-1853).

From the description of Jared Sparks collection of American manuscripts, 1582-1843. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 79458291

Sparks was an American historian and editor. He was president of Harvard (1849-1853).

From the description of Letters to various correspondents, 1835-1860. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 81756782

From the description of Jared Sparks collection of documents concerning the American Revolution, 1740-1866. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 122419474

From the guide to the Letters to various correspondents, 1835-1860., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

From the guide to the Jared Sparks collection of documents concerning the American Revolution, 1740-1866 ., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

Jared Sparks was a clergyman, editor, historian, and president of Harvard College. He was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1837.

From the description of Selected papers, [ca. 1819-1863], relating to Benjamin Franklin. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122464822

American historian, editor, and clergyman.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Cambridge, Mass., to Rev. Dr. [Andrew Preston] Peabody, 1865 Aug. 22. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 751980760

Educator, historian, biographer, editor.

From the description of Letters of Jared Sparks [manuscript], 1830-1856. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647805889

Jared Sparks (1789-1866, Harvard AB 1815) was a tutor from 1817-1819, McLean Professor of Ancient and Modern History from 1838-1849, and President of Harvard University from 1849 to 1853.

Cornelius Conway Felton (1807-1862, Harvard AB 1827) was a tutor from 1829 to 1832, University Professor of Greek from 1832 to 1834, Eliot Professor of Greek Literature from 1834 to 1860, Regent from 1849 to 1857, and President of Harvard University from 1860 to 1862.

From the description of Receipt for pen and points from James Perry & Co., Feb[ruar]y, 27th, 1844, and copy of receipt by C. C. Felton. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 77067921

Jared Sparks (1789-1866) was the President of Harvard University from February 1, 1849 to February 10, 1853. He was also a Unitarian minister, editor, and historian.

Jared Sparks (1789-1866) was born to Joseph Sparks and Elinor (Orcut) Sparks on May 10, 1789 in Willington, Connecticut. Sparks was one of nine children and came from a family of modest means. When he turned six years old, Sparks went to live with an aunt and uncle in Camden, New York, to help relieve the family of a mouth to feed. Although Sparks was a bright and intelligent young boy, there was little time for schooling with his relatives and in 1805 he returned to his parents.

Sparks displayed an interest in literary and historical pursuits in grammar school, becoming known as the "genius." Interested in astronomy, in 1807, Sparks observed a comet with a homemade cross-staff. At 18 he worked as a journeyman carpenter and school teacher. His study of mathematics and Latin began at the age of 20. With the aid of a local pastor, Sparks obtained a scholarship to the Phillips Exeter Academy. At Exeter, Sparks wrote articles on education and astronomy for the local newspaper. In 1811, Sparks was admitted to Harvard University. He dropped out of college in 1812 for financial reasons and tutored a family in Havre de Grace, Maryland, where he witnessed a British naval bombardment during the War of 1812. Sparks later published an account of this event in the North American Review. Returning to Harvard University, Sparks (A.B. 1815) became a leader in his class. He won the Bowdoin prize with an essay on Isaac Newton, joined the Phi Beta Kappa, and delivered a commencement part at graduation. From 1817 to 1819, while studying at the Harvard Divinity School, Sparks served as a tutor of geometry, astronomy, and natural history.

After leaving Harvard University, Sparks became a minister at the First Independent Church (Unitarian) in Baltimore, Maryland, and for one year was the chaplain of the United States Congress. He was a popular preacher and was invited to speak throughout the southern United States. Nevertheless, Sparks, whose feelings for the ministry were at best lukewarm, resigned his position in April 1823. He returned to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and embarked on a new career as the owner and editor of the North American Review.

Returning to Boston in 1823, Sparks literary career blossomed over the next decade. Under Sparks's leadership, the North American Review became the leading literary journal in the United States, comparing favorably with its French and English counterparts. Its articles were noted for their high quality and range, both geographical and intellectual.

Sparks's literary talents began to be recognized with the publication of The Life of John Ledyard (1828). In 1827, Sparks began what was to become his greatest effort, the publication of the writings of George Washington. Assembling material for this work, Sparks started searching for primary source material at Washington's home at Mount Vernon, Virginia, and also at other public and private archives around the country. Moreover, he interviewed and questioned survivors of the American Revolution and visited and mapped historic Revolutionary War sites. The first of twelve volumes of The Writings of George Washington appeared in 1834 and the last in 1837.

Sparks became a pioneer in the collecting of manuscript material and argued in an important groundbreaking essay in the North American Review that before the history of the United States could be written, the historical manuscripts and archives of the nation had to be assembled and made more accessible. Over the next several years Sparks wrote and published several multivolume works including, The Life of Governeur Morris (1832), The Works of Benjamin Franklin (1836-1840), and The Library of American Biography (1834-1838). To gather materials for The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution (1829-1830), Sparks became the first American historian to travel to Europe and investigate foreign primary source documents.

Sparks was instrumental in the systematic collection and saving of historical documents from the Revolutionary War era. His efforts were a boon to students and historians for the next fifty years. He also judged his audience correctly, for Sparks's books sold well and turned a handsome profit.

Despite Sparks's efforts he was not free from criticism. His critics noted that he edited original documents freely, corrected spellings and capitalization, and undertook to improve his subject's English grammar. Holding an American Romantic historian viewpoint, Sparks was inclined to portray his subjects without blemish and in a favorable light. Therefore, in order to avoid offense and embarrassment, Sparks freely edited the letters of historical figures before publication. It should be noted, however, that Sparks was following the common practice of the historians of his day and that the American public had no desire to see their heroes revealed or exposed in a negative fashion.

In 1838, Sparks returned to Harvard University as the McLean Professor of Ancient and Modern History. His first course on American history began in March 1839. Teaching until 1849, Sparks was an innovator in the classroom. He abandoned the method of recitation based on set textbooks for advanced classes and instructed his students with lectures, assigned readings and essays.

On February 1, 1849, Sparks was elected President of Harvard University. Although Sparks's election was welcomed by both the student body and Harvard community, he was unhappy as president, and his administration was short-lived. Tired of petty disciplinary duties and clerical responsibilities, Sparks resigned his position on February 10, 1853 to continue pursuing his literary interests.

In his short administration, Sparks was able to arrange and reclassify the early records of Harvard University. Ironically, Sparks himself is indirectly responsible for the existence of this very document describing his papers.

Sparks spent his last years in Cambridge, Massachusetts living quietly and advising students and young historians. He continued to collect manuscript material and published the Correspondence of the American Revolution, Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington in 1853. In 1857, Sparks traveled to Europe visiting various museums, historical sites, and archives. Sparks died of pneumonia on March 14, 1866.

Although Sparks's writings cannot be regarded as definitive because of his editorial methods, he was nevertheless, a pioneer in documentary editing. Moreover, he was instrumental in introducing the American public to a new conception of their history and providing a host of future writers and historians access to documents that, without his efforts, would have been lost.

Jared Sparks married Frances Anne Allen on October 16, 1832. They had one daughter, Maria Verplanck (1833). Frances died on July 12, 1835. A few years later, on May 21, 1839, Sparks re-married to Mary Crowninshield Silsbee, an heiress twenty years his junior. They had five children, Mary Crowninshield, Florence, William Eliot, Lizzie Wadsworth, and Beatrice.

Adams, Herbert B. The Life and Writings of Jared Sparks, Comprising Selections From His Journals and Correspondence. Boston:Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1893. Bassett, John Spencer.Jared Sparks. In The Middle Group of American Historians.New York: The Macmillan Company, 1917. Kraus, Michael.Patriots, Romantics-and Hildreth. In The Writing of American History.Norman, Oklahoma:University of Oklahoma Press, 1953. Morison, Samuel Eliot.Jared Sparks. In Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. XVII, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1933. Morison, Samuel Eliot.Three Centuries of Harvard, 1636-1936.Cambridge,Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1936.

From the guide to the Papers of Jared Sparks, 1820-1861, 1866., (Harvard University Archives)

Alexander Dallas Bache (1806-1867) was an important scientific reformer during the early nineteenth century. From his position as superintendent of the United States Coast Survey, and through leadership roles in the scientific institutions of the time, Bache helped bring American science into alignment with the professional nature of its European counterpart. In addition, Bache fostered the reform of public education in America.

On July 19, 1806 Alexander Dallas Bache was born into one of Philadelphia's elite families. The son of Richard Bache and Sophia Dallas, he was Benjamin Franklin's great-grandson, nephew to George Dallas (vice president under James K. Polk), and grandson to Alexander James Dallas (secretary of the treasury under James Madison). In 1821, Bache was admitted to the United States Military Academy at the age of 15, graduating first in his class four years later. He remained at the Academy for an additional two years to teach mathematics and natural history. While serving as a lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers, working on the construction of Fort Adams in Newport, R.I., he met Nancy Clarke Fowler whom he would later marry.

Bache left the Army in 1828 to begin an academic career, accepting an appointment as professor of natural philosophy and chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. Although his scientific interests were broad, he had a particular interest in geophyscial research. While in Philadelphia, he constructed a magnetic observatory, and made extensive research into terrestrial magnetism, and during the 1830s he began to be recognized as a leading figure in the city's scientific community. Bache was an active member of the American Philosphical Society and the Franklin Institute, seeking to raise the professional standards of both institutions and urging them to place a stronger emphasis on original research. While at the Franklin Institute from 1830-1835, Bache led a Federally-funded investigation into steam-boiler explosions, the government's first use of technical experts to examine a matter involving public policy.

In 1836 Bache became interested in educational reform when he was asked to help organize the curriculum at Girard College, of which he later served as president. Bache spent two years in Europe visiting over 250 educational institutions. The result of his visit was a 600 page study, Report on Education in Europe, to the Trustees of the Girard College for Orphans published in 1839. Although Bache was unable to apply the report at Girard College because of its delayed opening, it proved useful in overhauling the curriculum of Philadelphia's Central High School, where he was superintendent from 1839-1842, and was widely influential among American educational reformers, helping to introduce the Prussian educational model to the United States.

After meeting many of the leading savants during a European tour, including Alexander von Humboldt, Francois Arago, and Karl Friedrich Gauss, Bache became convinced of the need to professionalize American science. His opportunity to make an impact came in 1843 with the death of Ferdinand Hassler, superindendent of the U.S. Coast Survey. In the years before the Civil War, the Coast Survey supported more scientists then any other institution in the country, and Bache and his colleagues saw the Survey as a means of gaining federal patronage for science. After a campaign by his friends and colleagues, Bache was named as Hassler's replacement. Over the next two decades Bache transformed the Coast Survey into one of the nation's leading scientific institutions, becoming an important patron of science himself in the process . Bache was not just an administrator, but remained personally involved in field work.

Bache also led the reform of American science through his leadership of an elite group known as the "Lazzaroni" or scientific beggars. The goal of the Lazzaroni was to ensure that the nation's leading scientists kept control of the nation's scientific institutions, and they were instrumental in reforming the American Association for the Advancement of Science (of which Bache was president of in 1850). In his remarkably busy schedule, Bache was a member of the Lighthouse Board (1844-1845), superintendent of the Office of Weights and Measures (1844), and a prominent regent for the Smithsonian Institution, where he convinced fellow Lazzaroni Joseph Henry to become its first secretary. Bache also played a leading role in the creation of the National Academy of Sciences, serving as its first president. When the Americn Civil War broke out, Bache focused the Coast Survey to support the war effort, was vice president of the Sanitary Commision, a consultant to the army and navy on battle plans, a superintended for Philadelphia's defence plans, and a member of the Permanent Commission of the navy in charge of evaluating new weapons. Bache died in Newport, R.I. on February 17, 1867.

From the guide to the A. D. Bache Collection, 1833-1873, (American Philosophical Society)



Biographical notes are generated from the bibliographic and archival source records supplied by data contributors.

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