Richard Hildreth, an American author, born in Deerfield, Mass., June 28, 1807, died in Florence, Italy, July 11, 1805. He graduated at Harvard college in 1826, and while studying law in Newburyport furnished contributions to the "Boston Magazine" and the "New England Magazine." He entered upon the practice of law in Boston, but abandoned it in July, 1832, to become the editor of the "Boston Atlas." In the autumn of 1834 he went for the benefit of his health to the south, where he resided about a year and a half on a plantation. While here his anti-slavery novel, "Archy Moore" (1837), was written. It was republished in England, and in 1852 an enlarged American edition appeared under the title of "The White Slave." In 1830 he translated from the French of Dumont Bentham's "Theory of Legislation" (2 vols. 16mo, Boston, 1840). His next publication was a "History of Banks," an argument for the system of free banking with security to bill-holders, subsequently adopted in New York and several other states. In 1837 he wrote for the "Atlas" a series of articles against the annexation of Texas, which did much to stimulate the obstinate resistance it encountered in the free states.
After passing the winter of 1837-'8 in Washington as correspondent of the "Atlas," he resumed his editorial post as an advocate of Gen. Harrison, of whom he wrote a biography. In 1840 he published, under the title of "Despotism in America," a volume on the political, economical, and social aspects of slavery, to which in the edition of 1854 was appended a chapter on the "Legal Basis of Slavery." His controversial pamphlets, including a letter to Prof. Andrews Norton of Cambridge on "Miracles," were contributions to a long and exciting theological discussion in Massachusetts. A residence of three years, commencing with 1840, in Demerara, British Guiana, stimulated his anti-slavery activity; and, as the editor successively of two newspapers in Georgetown, the capital of the colony, he earnestly advocated the system of free labor. His "Theory of Morals" (Boston, 1844), and his "Theory of Politics" (New York, 1853), written during his sojourn in Guiana, were attempts to apply rigorously to ethical and political science the same inductive method of inquiry which has proved so successful in other sciences.
His principal work is his "History of the United States" (6 vols. 8vo, New York, 1849-50). This undertaking he had projected during his life in college, and he gave to it many years of thorough deliberation and study. The period covered extends from the settlement of America to the end of Monroe's first presidential term. He also published a historical work on "Japan as it Was and Is" (12mo, 1855). For several years Mr. Hildreth was engaged on the staff of the "New York Tribune," contributing also several articles to this Cyclopa3dia; and in 1861 he was appointed United States consul at Trieste.