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First British edition. The American theologian and historian Fisher (1827-1909) was born in Wrentham, MA and educated at Brown University, Yale Divinity School, Auburn Theological Seminary, and Andover Seminary. In 1852 he travelled to Germany, where he studied until 1854, ‘imbibing the historical method, with its attention to detail and the literary and critical analysis of historical texts, that was sweeping German intellectual circles [...]. In keeping with the German academic approach to historical scholarship, he saw his task as laying bare the facts and drawing presumably objective conclusions from them. His insistence on this understanding of historical method remains one of his most important contributions to American intellectual life’ (ANB).
On his return to the United States in 1854, Fisher was appointed Livingston Professor of Divinity at Yale University and also ordained as a Congregationalist minister, beginning a lifelong association with Yale, where he became professor of ecclesiastical history in 1861, holding the chair until his retirement in 1901. Fisher published a number of works on theology, church history, and secular history, and ‘was active in promoting the more general academic study of history. He served as president of both the American Historical Association and the American Society of Church History. In addition, through his editorship of New Englander and its successor, New Englander and Yale Review, he was able to reach a larger, nonacademic audience’ (op. cit.). Fisher’s historical works included The Reformation (New York, 1873), which ‘became the standard textbook for a generation of students’, Outlines of Universal History (New York, 1885), Brief History of the Nations (New York, 1896), and The Colonial Era in America, in which he ‘explored his New England roots in a study of early American history’ (op. cit.).
The first part of The Colonial Era in America comprises eleven chapters covering the history of America from the arrival of European settlers to the Glorious Revolution of 1688, discussing in detail the early British colonies of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The second part spans the period from 1688 to the first years of the French and Indian War and the beginning of the Seven Years’ War in 1756 (which subsumed the American conflicts), and is divided into ten chapters; the first considers the effect of the Glorious Revolution on the American colonies, the following eight are dedicated to the histories of New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, and the concluding chapter is dedicated to ‘Literature in the Colonies’. The Colonial Era in America was first published in New York by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1892 and in London in this edition in the same year.