Page:American History Told by Contemporaries, v2.djvu/14

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viii
Preface

cences. Whenever a piece could be found which is both characteristic and well written, it has been chosen over a piece which is equally accurate but has less literary merit. By references to Tyler's admirable History of American Literature, and Literary History of the Revolution, and other like works, I have tried to make it easy to learn the place of writers in the literature of the country.

The aim of the first half of this volume is to show the interest and the continuance of colonial history from the end of the seventeenth century to the outbreak of the Revolution. The lessons of this "forgotten half-century" are not to be found in the petty events of each colony, but in the growth of principles of government and of a social and economic system. Hitherto it has been hard to study this important formative period, because the illustrative material was so scattered: perhaps this volume will help to bring out the significance of the growth of an American spirit which made union and independence possible.

The history of the American Revolution, which is the subject of the second part of the volume, has usually been written as annals of military campaigns. In this volume I have sought to bring out, from the writings of the time, the real spirit of the Revolution: the ill-judged restrictive system of the home government; the passionate arguments for and against taxation; the fervor of the irregular opposition in the colonies. I have tried to let patriots, Englishmen, and loyalists speak for themselves, and thus to make clear that increasing and unappeasable discontent which preceded and explains the Revolution.

It is the editor's hope that both sections of this book may serve as an adjunct to school and college text-books, as material for topical study, and as a resource for those who like to know what manner of men their fathers were.

The courtesy of the Harvard College Library has opened to me all the stores of that vast collection; and to Miss Addie F. Rowe is due special credit for skilful verification and vigilant proof-reading.

ALBERT BUSHNELL HART.

Cambridge, January 1, 1898.