McMaster, John Bach, 1852–1932, American historian, b. Brooklyn, N.Y. Having practiced engineering in New York City and written two books, McMaster was appointed (1877) an instructor in civil engineering at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton). On a trip to Wyoming (1878), he was struck with the drama of the frontier, and his determination to write a history of the United States was renewed. After the successful appearance of his first volume in 1883, he was offered a newly created professorship of American history at the Univ. of Pennsylvania, where he remained until he retired in 1920. His History of the People of the United States (8 vol., 1883–1913), covering the period from the American Revolution to the Civil War, is marked by an emphasis on social and economic affairs, by the use of newspapers and other contemporary sources previously neglected by historians, and by a simple and straightforward narrative. He wrote a ninth volume, A History of the People of the United States during Lincoln's Administration (1927) and a number of highly successful school textbooks.
See biography by E. F. Goldman (1943).