Page:American History Told by Contemporaries, v2.djvu/32

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[No. 3
How to find Sources

colonies up to that time. The sources, therefore, throw an inner light on events : secondary writers may go over them, collate them, compare them, sometimes supplement them, but can never supersede them.

As for entertainment, the narratives of American discovery are the Arabian Nights of history for their marvels and adventures. The tale of the founding of Louisiana (No. 109) is a classic of romantic literature. Other pieces please by their quaintness, such as Gabriel Thomas's glowing description of Pennsylvania (No. 25), or Bolzius's simple account of the Salzburgers in Georgia (No. 40). Others of these selections are mile-stones in the growth of a national literature, stretching all the way from Cotton Mather's verbose style (No. 92) or Dummer's rugged Defence of the New- England Charters (No. 48), through Franklin's Autobiography (No. 81), to Francis Hopkinson's humor (No. 96) and Jefferson's full pipe-organ of splendid sentences (No. 188). As an account of the planting of a civilization in the wilderness, of the growth of free government, of a power to discuss great political questions with force, the sources of American history are a contribution to the world's literature.

3. Classification of Sources on the Colonies and the Revolution

ASSUMING that the use of sources needs no further argument, the next important question is, What sort of material is available on the colonial and revolutionary periods? For convenience of reference the pieces in this volume may be classified into a few general categories, as follows : —

The most important unwritten records stand along the sea-coast. These consist of old forts, such as the battery at Cambridge, Massachusetts, or the earthworks at Yorktown ; of public buildings, of which many date from the seventeenth century, as the State House at Newport, Pennsylvania Hall in Philadelphia, and the Court House at Hillsboro ; of churches, as the Old South in Boston, St. Michael s in Charleston, and the old Swedes Church (1700) in Philadelphia ; and of dwelling-houses, such as the Wayside Inn at Sudbury, Massachusetts, the Bond house at Edenton, North Carolina, the Byrd mansion at Westover, near Richmond, the Chew house at Germantown, and Mount Vernon. Such remains may be used by visiting them, or by showing photographs of them. In several