The Early American Historians.
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( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Edward Everett (1794-1865), Boston-born and Harvard-bred, returned in 1819 from Germany, where he had spent four years, two of them at Göttingen. He was a Unitarian preacher, and a sermon delivered by him in the House of Representatives at Washington in 182o, gave him a national reputation. In the pages of the "North American Review" Everett unloaded his treasures of Ger-man thought. More than a hundred articles came from his pen. In 1824 his address before the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Harvard on "The Circumstances Favorable to the Progress of Literature in America," was a prophetic precursor of Emerson's dissertation on "The American Scholar," delivered before the same society thirteen years later. Everett was noted for his high classical scholar-ship and for the careful finish of his prose style. But he was not merely a literary man; he was active in public affairs. He represented Boston in Congress for ten years, was Governor of Massachusetts for three years, United States Minister to England for four years, president of Harvard for three years, Secretary of State in President Fillmore's Cabinet for one year, and United States Senator for one year, when he resigned on account of impaired health. Yet afterward he delivered in various parts of the country an oration on Washington for the purpose of raising a fund to purchase Mount Vernon and preserve it intact as a national memorial. His final service was in delivering the oration at the dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg in November, 1863. His speeches were polished to the perfection of classical oratory, and were full of admiring contemplation and thoughtful admonition. But owing to their lack of fervor and to the change in public taste, his fame, even as an orator, has been greatly diminished. During his life-time he was a model in eloquence and a controlling factor in literary criticism.