Hubert Howe Bancroft: Behind the Façade of Professional Historian


Since before the Mexican-American War, ingrained notions of American superiority over Mexicans appeared in narratives of Texas. This paper argues that Hubert Howe Bancroft, although referenced as an unbiased, realistic historian of Texas history in The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft XVI: The History of North Mexican States and Texas volume 2, actually coded his narrative with images and text of United States’ social dominance over Mexico. Using the lens of postcolonial theory, my research method performs a close reading of the eleven illustrations and the accompanying text, a comparison with primary cartographic sources, and an analysis of early historians’ tropes of Texas to examine the crafted historical narrative and function of images. It concludes that, using manifest destiny in Austin’s colony maps, and the use of empathy in maps describing emotional military losses, Bancroft’s scientific Texas narrative is coded with United States’ Anglo American moral and political superiority.