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ALBERT BUSHNELL HART, A.B., Ph.D., LL.D., Litt.D.; born Clarksville, Pa., Professor of Government, Harvard University; member of Board of Governors of Mooseheart; trustee of Howard University, Washington, D. C.
Author: Actual Government as Applied Under American Conditions; Salmon P. Chase; Epoch Maps; Essentials in American History; Formation of the Union; Foundations of American Foreign Policy; The Great Explosion; Manual of American History, Diplomacy and Government; The Monroe Doctrine, An Interpretation; National Ideals, Historically Traced; Obvious Orient; New American History; School History of the United States; Slavery and Abolition; Southern South; WE AND OUR HISTORY, A Biography of the American People, etc., etc.
Editor: American Citizen Series (7 vols.); American History Told by Contemporaries (4 vols.); American Patriots and Statesmen (5 vols.); The American National History (28 vols.); Cyclopedia of American Government (3 vols.); Source Readers of American History (4 vols.), etc., etc.
"Let the people know the truth, and the country is safe.”—Lincoln
A Biography of the American People
Professor of Government in Harvard University
With eighteen full-page drawings by Hanson Booth, fifty pictorial
half-tone and line illustrations
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
EDITORIAL EXECUTIVE BOARD
and Donald F. Stewart
The text of this book has been read and approved by an Editorial Advisory Board
mo sawa O the young American and the newly naturalized American, no subject
should be more alive than the history of the United States. For this is an interesting hemisphere, an interesting continent, an interesting
country-above all, it is our country, our mother, our protector, Que se ourselves.
So rich and so varied is the life of America that hundreds of text
books have been written on American history. It is not the intention to duplicate those formal works, which set out to include everything. The principles of this book may be briefly set forth as follows:
The book is written for any person who finds it interesting at any age. It is hoped that it will be clear to young minds and will fill the needs of the newcomer and would be citizen.
It is founded on selection; it characterizes those conditions, persons, parties, documents and laws which seem best to set forth the real significance of our country. Nothing finds place here that is not essential to an understanding of ourselves.
On the other hand, this process involves leaving out many things important in themselves, in order to make room here for a broad treatment. Except for cross references, every chapter and every section must explain itself. Things that cannot be made sufficiently clear have to be left out.
The proportions of the book are unusual. Half the space has been deliberately given to the period since 1865; because the issues of the last sixty years include the vital questions of the present.
Therefore the details of politics and parties, of wars and campaigns, of lawmaking and courts, have been reduced to small dimensions. The most important inquiry in our history is not what has been done by statesmen and governments, but what have the American people been thinking and carrying out. An inspection of the Table of Contents will show that nearly half the chapters are devoted wholly to the life and hopes and ambitions of the plain Americans.
Particular attention is paid to the personnel of the American people—the original settlers and their mode of life, the various race elements, and the way they have taken their place as citizens of the Republic. Just now this is the most important question in the growth of our country.
Since the main text cannot contain much detail on individuals, the last section of each chapter sets in relief some American who stands for the spirit of the period described in the preceding chapter—whether explorer or colonist or statesman or soldier or author or practical man or woman.
The book also takes pains to stress the broad movement from east to west, within the country, of old inhabitants and newcomers. This is the fascinating study of the frontier, which, while you are looking at it, changes into a rich and well settled region.
In all study of history of government, the main question is not so much the framework of government as what the people expect their governments and their private organizations to do. A true history of the United States, therefore, must include studies of business, banking, corporations, and transportation; and likewise the power of government to regulate business and combinations of business men.
Due space is given to the still unsolved problems of labor and capital, and employment and trusts, and the efforts of the American people through their national and state governments to protect the weak and control the strong.
This book has been prepared in constant contact with Mr. Donald F. Stewart, editor of the series, who believes in the method of making a text intended to show how individuals and groups and the whole population are the motive force in the development of the nation. The wealth of pictures and maps, drawn partly from the writer's collection of illustrative material, and partly from other collections, is revealed at every page. The text is illuminated and enlarged throughout by these pictures, grouped with so much insight and skill by Mr. Stewart. They tell their own story.
To sum up, the aim of the book is to be a history, not of the select governing forces of the United States, but of the people as a whole. It deals not simply with questions that can be discussed in Congress and summed up in statute books; but rather the life of the people as shown by their conquest of the continent, their schools, their organizations, their inventions, their work, their skill and their patriotism. New York, September, 1923
A. B. H.