The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 35, July 1931 - April, 1932 Page: 326
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
A. Garfield, Stephen Girard, U. S. Grant, Horace Greeley, Samuel
Gompers, E. E. Hale, Alexander Hamilton, Wade Hampton, Mark
Hanna, William H. and Benjamin Harrison, Warren G. Harding,
and William Rainey Harper. The real value of the Dictionary of
American Biography is not to be measured, however, by its major
characters. Sketches of well-known national characters may be
found elsewhere. Its great bulk of authentic information about
relatively less important characters can be found in no other col-
lection and in most cases has never been compiled before.
The scope of the work embraces all professions and all occupa-
tions. The first sketch in Volume VII, for example, is of Samuel
Fraunces, tavern keeper and steward of George Washington while
he was President. It is followed by sketches of novelists, poets,
artists, actors, theatre managers, merchants, manufacturers, his-
torians, teachers, Indian chiefs, soldiers, doctors, preachers, news-
paper editors, judges, lawyers, explorers, trappers, ranchmen--
men and women of all ranks and classes who made a conspicuous
impression upon the life of their times. One of the chief aims
of the editors was to make the Dictionary interesting reading.
They have striven to have the sketches present as vividly as pos-
sible not only the essential facts about their subjects but their
personal appearance and characteristics. In the main they have
succeeded, and a leisurely reader will find much entertainment
in turning the pages of a volume casually and reading the sketches
that strike his fancy.
For the most part contributors are sympathetically objective in
their characterizations, but this is not to say that they are un-
critical. For particularly frank examples of modern biographical
writing the reader is referred to the sketches of Alexander Ham-
ilton and Warren G. Harding, both by Professor Allan Nevins of
Columbia University. At the same time it must be said that the
sketch of Hamilton is one of the very few articles that seems to
call for revision in subsequent printings. Partly on account of
necessary compression, it contains some ambiguities and apparent
contradictions, and at least one minor error. The law creating
the First Bank of the United States, for example, was passed as
Professor Nevins well knows in 1791 instead of 1792. More seri-
ous are the ambiguities and potentially inaccurate inferences.
Some readers will find it difficult to reconcile Hamilton's decla-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 35, July 1931 - April, 1932, periodical, 1932; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101092/m1/330/: accessed February 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.