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DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE,
CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES,
INAUGURAL AND FIRST ANNUAL ADDRESSES
AND MESSAGES OF ALL THE PRESIDENTS,
THE SIGNERS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE,
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1841,
By E. LELAND AND W. J. WHITING,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.
We could not find it in our hearts to leave to an uncertain, and, perhaps, unwelcome reception, the compilation which we here offer to the reader. A preface is a letter of introduction, designed to secure for a work a favorable reception, and too often makes a display of qualities not found in its subject. We shall, therefore, not attempt to accumulate a mass of high sounding epithets, to usher in the approach of our book, nor assert, in the usual style of a preface, that no knowledge is so important to man, as that which we intend to convey.
But we would admonish the young American of the necessity of knowing something more of the subject on which he the most frequently reads and converses. It is not sufficient to know that our government has been alternately administered by federalists and republicans, but it is necessary to learn their difference, from the prominent measures of each administration; and this can be learned only from public documents. It is true that the press teems with political publications, from which it might be supposed that the people could obtain the requisite information. But it is to be remembered, that most of these exhibitions of political faith are made by men who have formed their creed, not from the light emitted by the “fathers of our constitution, but from the peculiar circumstances connected with their education and early associations; and how honest soever may be the advocates of different views, it cannot be denied that a more accurate knowledge of the basis of our government can be obtained from the doctrines of those who labored to confirm and strengthen it. All political wisdom was not revealed to the early apostles of American independ
ence, but an accurate estimate of the comparative value of different political truths can be best obtained from a knowledge of the circumstances in which they originated, and of their progress to the present time.
The statistical information in this work has been carefully collected from the most approved authorities, and the necessary corrections in them have been made, wherever typographical errors appeared.
In the lives of the men who were chiefly instrumental in conducting our country through the storm of the revolution, we have endeavored to delineate the peculiar features of their political characters, by a relation of the prominent incidents in their lives, rather than by identifying them with any political party. In this portion of our book, we have exceeded the limits which we prescribed to ourselves in our prospectus, that we might not mar the symmetry of the structure, by omitting any of its parts.
We would, in conclusion, express our gratitude to friends, for the activity and zeal which they have manifested in extending to us their valuable aid and encouragement.