« PreviousContinue »
Hist. - Amer. Wahr 8.22-25 12211
"Read it! Why should I read it? It ain't no novel!” Caught temporarily off his guard, a student delivered himself of the expostulation just quoted. To be sure, he needed three hours' credit in history, but even that summum bonum was hardly a sufficient inducement to drive him into undue familiarity with this text-book. In the class room the cogitations of an undergraduate are sometimes unproductive of results; in a more natural environment they often reveal the power of shrewd, though unregenerate, analysis.
And yet, American history is interesting. Even worldly-wise sophomores have been found who would honestly confess as much. In selecting and preparing material for this volume, the author has tried to preserve some of that interest, and to place it at the disposal of his readers, so that an instructor may not need to blush when he asks his students to buy the text. In making this attempt he has endeavored likewise to be scrupulously accurate in matters of fact, and fair in his interpretations. The interesting and the true are not necessarily divorced in life; they cannot be in a book without painful lacerations of the spirit.
The volume was written for undergraduates, as a means of introducing them to a subject which, when properly presented, will stir their enthusiasm. It is not designed as an exhaustive treatment, nor as an encyclopædia. Inevitably gaps are left, to be filled by collateral reading and by the instructor. The author hopes that the work will appeal to those teachers who consider the arousing of interest just as important as the exposition of events.
In a work of this sort, inevitably a compilation, as all texts in history must be, mistakes cannot be entirely avoided. For those that may appear, the author expresses his regret.
The material for the book has been gathered from a fairly wide range of reading in the literature of American history. To name all the works drawn upon, with an exact statement of the contribution levied upon each, would be an impossible task. Occasionally, where an important conclusion seems to be peculiarly a case of private property, due credit is given in a footnote. To all the other authorities used, even though they are unnamed, the writer is deeply grateful.
In the Bibliographical Notes at the end of the text will be found selected lists of readings, to accompany the chapters. With the help of these references the amount of time spent upon any given period may be varied so as to suit the needs and interests of different instructors.
It is a pleasure to render the other acknowledgments due: to the students in American history, Boston University, College of Liberal Arts, who have listened attentively while this material was being tried out upon them; to my colleague, Professor Warren 0. Ault, for reading and helpfully criticising parts of the manuscript; to Professor Brewer G. Whitmore, of Tufts College, for similar aid; to the publishers, Messrs. Henry Holt and Company, for innumerable helpful suggestions, and for very sound advice; and to my wife, for both editorial and constructive criticism, and for preparing the manuscript for the press. BOSTON UNIVERSITY
R. V. H. COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS January, 1925