AHA President, 1915


University of California, Berkeley

From the American Historical Review 24:4 (July 1919)

Henry Morse Stephens (October 3, 1857–April 16, 1919), head of the department of history in the University of California since 1902, president of the American Historical Association in 1915, and a member of the Board of Editors of this journal from its foundation in 1895 to 1905, died suddenly on April 16. Born in England in 1857, he was educated at Haileybury and at Balliol College, Oxford, and for a time was occupied with journalistic writing, mostly relating to India and to modern history. From 1892 to 1894 he was lecturer in Indian history at Cambridge. In 1894 he came to America, as professor of modern European history in Cornell University, where he taught for eight years. His breadth of view, his intense interest in the history of the British Empire and its relations, the power of statement and of imagination by which he made modern history vivid to undergraduate minds, immediately gave his teaching fame and influence in America, while his genial social traits, his talent for friendship, and his gift of entertaining speech, speedily brought him a position of prominence among the members of the historical profession. He contributed actively and most generously to the foundation of this journal, and a year or two later was of great service to the American Historical Association in a critical time. He had the keenest interest in the Association, and from the time when he came to America attended almost every annual meeting. In California, delighting in the state and its life, he not only built up a strong department of history in the university and fostered there the active study of California history, but did much useful work in spreading interest in history throughout the state. After earlier writings on The Story of Portugal and on Albuquerque, he had published in 1886 the first volume of a History of the French Revolution, which, with points of view new to the English-speaking public, new researches, and an unusual command of the recent French literature of the subject, bade fair to displace at last the classical narrative of Carlyle. A second volume appeared in 1892, but the work was never finished. The best of Stephens’s work, however, lay always in the training of a group of specially devoted students, on whom he lavished time and thought and the inexhaustible riches of his friendship.



A history of the French revolution, by H. Morse Stephens, In three volumes. Vol. I–II. New York, C. Scribner’s sons, 1886-91.

The principal speeches of the statesmen and orators of the French revolution, 1789–1795; ed. with introductions, notes, and indices, by H. Morse Stephens. 2 vols. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1892.

The study of history in schools; report to the American Historical Association by the committee of seven, Andrew C. McLaughlin, chairman, Herbert B. Adams, George L. Fox, Albert Bushnell Hart, Charles H. Haskins, Lucy M. Salmon, H. Morse Stephens. New York, The Macmillan Company; London, Macmillan and Co., Ltd., 1899.

The story of Portugal. New York, AMS Press [1971]

Albuquerque. By H. Morse Stephens. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 2000.