Hildreth, Richard(hĭl`drəth), 1807–65, American historian, b. Deerfield, Mass. From 1832 to 1838 he was the leading editorial writer for the Boston Daily Atlas. In addition to writing controversial pamphlets and contributing to magazines, Hildreth wrote Banks, Banking, and Paper Currencies (1840); a discussion of slavery, Despotism in America (1840); a novel, The Slave; or, Memoirs of Archy Moore (1836), which went through many editions in England, France, and America; and two books written in an inductive, scientific manner, Theory of Morals (1844) and Theory of Politics (1853). His chief work, however, was The History of the United States (6 vol., 1849–52), an accurate though uninspired treatment of American history to the year 1821 from a Federalist point of view.
See biography by D. E. Emerson (1946); M. M. Pingel, An American Utilitarian (1948).
Born June 28, 1807, in Deerfield, Mass.; died July 11, 1865, in Florence. American writer, philosopher, and historian.
After graduating from Harvard University in 1826, Hildreth practiced law and later turned to journalism. From 1861 to 1864 he served as American consul to Trieste. Hildreth edited various abolitionist publications. In his treatise Despotism in America (1840), he denounced slavery from the political, economic, and moral standpoints. His novel The Slave: or Memoirs of Archy Moore (published anonymously in 1836) was one of the first an-tislavery novels in American literature; in 1852 it was republished with a supplementary second part under the title The White Slave: or Memoirs of a Fugitive (Russian translation, 1862).
In contrast to H. B. Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Hildreth rejected the idea of nonresistance to evil: one of his heroes struggles against the slaveholders and dies heroically with weapon in hand. In his philosophical works The Theory of Morals (1844) and The Theory of Politics (1853), he developed his own variation of utilitarianism, distinct from that of J. Bentham. Hildreth was also influenced by the ideas of R. Owen. Between 1849 and 1852, Hildreth published his History of the United States (vols. 1–6).
WORKSIn Russian translation:
Belyirab. Moscow-Leningrad, 1960.
REFERENCESFialkovskii, E. E. “Richard Khildret i osobennosti ego khudozhestvennogo masterstva.” Uch. zap. Adygeiskogoped. in-ta, 1957, vol. 1.
Emerson, D. Richard Hildreth. Baltimore, 1946.
Pingel, M. M. An American Utilitarian: Richard Hildreth as a Philosopher. New York, 1948.
Literary History of the United States. Edited by R. E. Spiller et al. New York, 1963.