We can think of Jared Sparks (1789-1866) as the first American historian.
Obviously he wasn’t the first person to write about American history. You may recall that Alexis de Tocqueville visited the United States in 1831-32 and then went home to France to write De la démocratie en Amérique (Democracy in America).
Sparks was the first American with public recognition as a scholar of American history. In 1838 he was selected as the McLean Professor of Ancient and Modern History at Harvard University, and he served in that post until 1849. He was the first academic historian doing original research, and did pioneering work in the collection of primary documentary materials. Sparks also served as president of Harvard during 1849-53.
The first history prof wrote The Life and Writings of George Washington (12 vols.) in 1834-37.
Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2015