The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

XVII. Writers on American History, 1783–1850

§ 16. Jedidiah Morse

One of the friends of Belknap and Hazard—and a connection of Hazard’s by marriage—was Jedidiah Morse (1761–1826), minister at Charlestown, Massachusetts. He was the author of the first American geography (1789), a book containing much more than mere geographical description. To gather the accounts of natural resources, means of communication, and statistics the author made many journeys. He also collected facts for his Annals of the American Revolution (1824), a compilation which posterity does not esteem highly. But it served its day, and was for a time widely read. Morse was probably indebted to Hazard and Belknap for the impetus that set him to writing. The latter complained that it was only Morse who could make money out of what he wrote.

When Morse published his thin work, two other men, Jared Sparks and Peter Force, were planning much greater enterprises. One was a New England man, a Harvard graduate, a minister of accepted standing, and a member of the most select literary circle of Boston. The other was a self-taught printer’s boy who became publisher and editor, with a passion for collecting. Each served well the cause of historical research.