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THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
ATLANTA • SAN FRANCISCO
MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED
THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD
In this book I have sought to tell clearly and impartially the story of human achievement in what is now the United States, from the earliest traces of man's existence to the present time. Out of the multitude of facts which may be considered within the domain of American history, those have been recounted which seem best suited to explain the progress of the people as a nation. The influence of physical environment has been discussed in the opening chapter, which also deals with the primitive inhabitants. An attempt has been made to give the colonial period its proper unity and show in what manner the colonies were a part of the general British scheme of imperial government. At the same time one must remember that it is American and not British history which concerns us, and for that reason the narrative must not neglect the individual colonies. From the end of the colonial period the dominant interest is the progress of events which have to do with the common cause of independence, and after that with national development.
Much thought has been given to the proper distribution of emphasis between the various historical factors. Political institutions are the most conscious expression of the national will. They determine the form of the story which the historian has to tell. But social and economic conditions and the actions of leading men give color and contour to the figure and decide whether it be attractive or unattractive, vivid or unimpressive. This volume contains at intervals summaries of the habits and social progress of the people, while throughout it seeks to present the decisions of congress and administrations in the matters which relate to the most important phases of popular welfare. It is believed that, if well done, it thus becomes in the most vital sense a social history. My aim has been to lay the necessary foundation for those who wish to pursue further the subject of American history in whatever phase they may be interested.
In a work like this it is impossible to discuss new historical evidence. I have had to content myself with what has already been done by patient and faithful investigators. I have drawn from the results of their labors freely and gratefully. It has also been necessary to omit many things which I should have desired to include had greater space been allowed by the plan to which the book must conform. It seemed best to deal only with the main currents of history, and to follow these with considerable fullness rather than encumber the narrative with many details. If some of my readers are disappointed
through the omission of something they expected to find, I hope they will be consoled by finding that what has been attempted has gained in amplitude of treatment.
The bibliographies at the ends of chapters are intended as an aid to those who wish to read further than this book can carry them. They are classified with respect to subjects, and while they are not critical, no book has been mentioned which does not contain useful information, although some of them must be perused with discrimination. It is suggested that the investigator suppplement the information herein offered by consulting Larned, The Literature of American History (1902), Hart, editor, The American Nation, 27 vols. (19041908), as well as special bibliographies. The books mentioned under the caption, For Independent Reading, are popular rather than scientific, but they generally contain reliable information. It is hoped that they may be of value to students who wish to read American history during vacations and to others who read through their own initiative.
Finally, the author's thanks are due to Professor Marshall S. Brown of New York University, who kindly read and criticised the completed manuscript, but who is in no way responsible for the errors herein contained.
J. S. B.
16 RUE CHALGRIN, PARIS,
PREFACE TO THE ENLARGED EDITION
The progress of time makes it necessary to add to this book an account of the events that have occurred since the work was published in 1913. At that time a new administration was coming into office: at the present it is going out. To treat in proper perspective a period so close at hand and to interpret rightly its many disputed points may well tax the resources of the wisest historian. I hope for the same consideration from the public in this respect that has been so generously extended to the book in other respects. I have given my serious attention to determining what to omit as comparatively unimportant, and how to combine and emphasize the facts that are presented. If I have made mistakes in doing so, I have at least avoided some I might have made by following another course.
J. S. B. March 3, 1921.