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In presenting this work to the public, the Editor has been principally solicitous to lay before his readers important facts; he has aimed much more to inform, than to amuse; he trusts, however, that its pages will not be found void of interest, even to those who read principally for amusement. The origin and rise of a mighty empire, however distant in point of time, and however little connected with present events, cannot be contemplated without feelings powerfully awakened. But when this empire has started into life in our own times; when its concerns are intimately connected with our own destinies, and come home to every man's business and bosom, it becomes then an object of intense interest; and every individual must be anxious to be acquainted with the mighty events which have produced so singular a phenomenon in the history of the world. It is not only the philosopher and the politician that are interested in the subjects treated of in this work; the humble cottager, and the industrious artizan are equally concerned in the destinies of a New World, which Providence in its mercy seems to have prepared as an asylum from the persecutions, the privations, and the revolutionary storms which threaten to afflict, and disturb the nations of Europe.
The Editor has entered more at large into the details of the discovery and early history of the American Continent than some readers may approve of; but, in adopting this plan, he was influenced by the conviction that the present state of America cannot be fully understood, nor the character of its people fairly appreciated, without a reference to the origin of its colonization, and some knowledge of the various steps by which it has attained its present importance.
As it was one of the main objects of the Editor to consult the wants of that class of readers who have not access to numerous writers on the same subject; he has liberally availed himself both of the researches of his predecessors, and the labors of his contemporaries. The present work aspires to no higher title than a faithful compilation, or digest, of the facts furnished by others; and if the Editor has succeeded in arranging them in a lucid order, he has fully accomplished his original purpose.