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FROM THE CIVIL WAR
DAVID SAVILLE MUZZEY, PH.D.
From the inauguration of Thomas Jefferson at the beginning of the nineteenth century to the outbreak of the Civil War sixty years elapsed. Since the Civil War another period of sixty years is just drawing to its close. The student of American history finds a marked contrast between these two equal periods. In the first the emphasis is upon the confirmation of the physical, political, and constitutional foundations of national power - the expansion of our domain to the Pacific by migration, purchase, and conquest; upon the broadening of the basis of democracy by the extension of the suffrage, the popularization of official function, the liberalization of state constitutions; and, above all, upon the vindication of the Hamiltonian-Websterian doctrine of a strong central government as against repeated assertions of the Federal principle of states' rights culminating in secession and war. A valued critic of the first volume of "The United States of America" has justly summarized it as an exposition of "the gradual permeating, molding, assimilating, of various communities and institutions by a steady expanding force indicated by the term 'nationality.”
The emphasis of the present volume, which deals with the post-war period, is quite different. The author's theme is still the development of American democracy, but the conditions of that development are changed. New problems have arisen. Instead of the sectional cleavage between North and South along political-constitutional lines, we have an economic sectionalism between East and West. Instead of the pre-war attitude of noninterference with business on the part of the government, we note the consciousness-dawning slowly at first, but growing strong with the rapid development of industrial consolidation of the need for some sort of Federal control of "big business.” Instead of the traditional policy of detachment from the rival
ries of the Old World, recommended by the Fathers in the days of our national infancy and jealously guarded as a fundamental principle of American policy, we find the country in the last quarter of a century rather suddenly transformed into a world power, entering on the “new and untried paths” of the administration of distant colonies of alien peoples, participating in European conferences, sending armies to fight on the soil of France, asserting its authority at the peace table of Versailles, and now standing, hesitant and confused, halting between the counsels of a return to political isolation from Europe and an advance to further coöperation with Europe.
To do justice to these chief problems of our history since the Civil War—the grievances of the agrarian West, the amazing growth of industry with its effects upon the relations between capital and labor and between the government and big business, and the summons to America to play a part in the common task of world stabilization commensurate with her power and prestige—requires far greater emphasis upon economic and international topics than they received in Volume I. For the rest, the present volume follows its predecessor closely in structure and purpose. The author has sought to present the material in form and treatment sufficiently mature to give the college student the sense of a new and more exacting method of approach to American history, rather than merely to repeat in fuller detail, but on essentially the same plane, the facts which he learned in school; to emphasize continuity by developing important movements in a topical, evolutionary treatment, rather than adhering too strictly to a chronological scheme which would tend to distribute the material in annalistic fragments; and to give vividness to the narration by emphasizing the personality of the outstanding figures of the period (who, after all, make the history) and letting them tell the story to a considerable extent in their own words.
DAVID SAVILLE MUZZEY Columbia UNIVERSITY, NEw York