Page images
[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

Prefatory Note

This volume closes the task, entered upon by me in April, 1895, of compiling all the official papers of the Presidents. Instead of finding it the labor of a year, as I supposed it would be when I undertook it, the work has occupied me closely for more than four years. A great portion of this, time has been consumed in the preparation of the Index. The Index is mainly the work of my son, James D. Richardson, jr., who prepared it with such assistance as I could give him. He has given his entire time to it for three years. Every reference in it has been examined and compared with the text by myself. We have endeavored to make it full, accurate, and comprehensive, with numerous cross references. There will be found in this Index a large number of encyclopedic articles, which are intended, in part at least, to furnish the reader definitions of politico-historical words and phrases occurring in the papers of the Chief Magistrates, or to develop more fully questions or subjects to which only indirect reference is made or which are but briefly discussed by them. There will also be found short accounts of several hundred battles in which the armies of the United States have been engaged; also descriptions of all the States of the Union and of many foreign countries. We have striven earnestly to make these encyclopedic articles historically correct, and to this end have carefully compared them with the most eminent authorities. This feature was not within the scope of the work as contemplated when the resolution authorizing the compilation was passed, nor when the act was passed requiring the preparation of the Index; but with the approval of the Joint Committee on Printing I have inserted the articles, believing that they would be of interest. They contaiu facts and valuable information not always easily accessible, and it is hoped that they will serve to familiarize the young men of the country who read them with its history and its trials and make of them better citizens and more devoted lovers of our free institutions. There has



been no effort or inclination on my part to give partisan bias or political coloring of any nature to these articles. On the other hand, I have sought only to furnish reliable historical data and well-authenticated definitions and to avoid even the appearance of an expression of my own opinion. It is proper to add that these articles have all been read and approved by Mr. A. R. Spofford, Chief Assistant Librarian of Congress, to whom I now make acknowledgment of my indebtedness.

In pursuance of the plan originally adopted certain papers were omitted from the earlier volumes of this work. Referring to these papers, the following statement occurs in the Prefatory Note to Volume I: “In executing the commission with which I have been charged I have sought to bring together in the several volumes of the series all Presidential proclamations, addresses, messages, and communications to Congress excepting those nominating persons to office and those which simply transmit treaties, and reports of heads of Departments which contain no recommendation from the Executive.” In the Prefatory Note to Volume IX the statement was made that this course was a mistake, and "that the work to be exhaustive should comprise every message of the Presidents transmitting reports of heads of Departments and other communications, no matter how brief or unintelligible the papers were in theniselves, and that to make them intelligible I should insert editorial footnotes explaining them. Having acted upon the other idea in making up Volume I and a portion of Volume II, quite a number of such brief papers were intentionally omitted. Being convinced that all the papers of the Executives should be inserted, the plan was modified accordingly, and the endeavor was thereafter made to publish all of them. In order, however, that the compilation may be 'accurate and exhaustive,' I have gone back and collected all the papers—those which should have appeared in Volumes I and II as well as such as were unintentionally omitted from the succeeding volumes—excepting those simply making nominations, and shall publish them in an appendix in the last volume.” These omitted papers, with editorial footnotes, have been inserted in the Appendix, and appear in the Index in alphabetical order, so that no serious inconvenience will result to the reader.

The compilation properly closed with President Cleveland's second Administration, March 4, 1897, but as the Spanish-American War excited great interest I determined, after conferring with the Joint Committee on Printing, to publish the official papers of President McKinley which relate exclusively to that war. These will be found in the Appendix.


I have been greatly assisted in the work of compilation by Mr. A. P. Marston, of the Proof Room of the Government Printing Office. Without his valuable assistance in searching for and obtaining the various papers and his painstaking care in the verification of data the work would not have been so complete. Mr. Charles T. Hendler, of the State Branch of the Government Printing Office, rendered timely aid in procuring proclamations from the archives of the State Department. To these gentlemen I make proper acknowledgments.

The work has met with public favor far beyond all expectations, and words of praise for it have come from all classes and callings. Those who possess it may be assured that they have in their libraries all the official utterances of the Presidents of the United States from 1789 to 1897 that could possibly be found after the most diligent search, and that these utterances are not to be found complete in any other publication.

I close by quoting from the Prefatory Note to Volume I: “If my work shall prove satisfactory to Congress and the country, I will feel compensated for my time and effort."


« PreviousContinue »