From: Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
George Bancroft was born in Worcester, Mass., 3 October 1800. An eminent historian and politician, he wrote The History of the United States. In 1845 he was appointed Secretary of the Navy and founded the Naval Academy. He also fostered the work of the Washington Observatory and raised the standard of professional instruction. He was later minister to Great Britain, Prussia and the North German Federation, and the German Empire. He died in Washington in 1891 and was buried in Worcester, Mass.
(PG: dp. 839; l. 189'; b. 32'; dr. 12'2"; s. 14.5 k.; cpl. 123; a. 44", 2 18" TT.)
The first Bancroft, a steel gunboat, was launched 30 April 1892 by Samuel L. Moore and Sons, Elizabethport, N. J., sponsored by Miss Mary Frances Moore; and commissioned 3 March 1893, Lieutenant Commander A. Walker in command.
Bancroft was designated as a practice ship for the Naval Academy midshipmen and stationed at Annapolis. During 1893-96 she cruised along the east coast visiting various shipyards with groups of midshipmen embarked. In September 1896 she sailed to join the European Squadron and for the next year and a half protected American interests in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Called home when Congress declared war upon Spain Bancroft reached Boston, Mass., 4 April 1898 and served with the North Atlantic Squadron between 9 May and 9 August. She convoyed troop transports to Cuba and was on blockade duty at Havana and the Isle of Pines. On 28 July Bancroft seized a small schooner.
Bancroft returned to Boston 2 September and was placed out of commission 30 September 1898. After being recommissioned 14 August 1900, she cruised in Colombian waters (26 November 1900-12 February 1901) making surveys. Returning to Boston 29 April 1901, she went out of commission 25 May. Recommissioned 6 October 1902 she served until 1905 as a station ship at San Juan, P. R., cruising in the West Indies and patrolling the area. Bancroft was transferred to the Revenue Cutter Service 30 June 1906.