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A SHORT HISTORY OF THE

UNITED STATES

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A SHORT HISTORY OF

THE UNITED STATES

1492—1920

BY

JOHN SPENCER BASSETT, Ph.D.

PROFESSOR OF AMERICAN HISTORY IN

SMITH COLLEGE

New York
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

1923

All rights reserved

COPYRIGHT, 1913 AND 1921,
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.

Set up and electrotyped. Published September, 1913.

With new chapters, February, 1921.

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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 chapte 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

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