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The History of the United States naturally divides itself into two principal parts. The first, colonial and revolutionary; the second, embracing the period subsequent to the adoption of the Federal Constitution.

Having already sketched in three volumes the story of the colonial and revolutionary times, I have been encouraged to enter, somewhat more at large than I had originally intended, upon the history of the second period—that part of it, at least, which the lapse of time has so far thrown into perspective as to enable it to be comprehended by the historic eye, not as a fragmentary series of events, but, to a certain extent, as a finished whole.

Such is the case with the first generation subsequent to the adoption of the Federal Constitution, including the origin, policy, conflicts, mutations, and final dissolution of the two parties known as Federalists and Republicans, or Democrats; a period of struggles within, and of dangers from without, during which the tenacity of the American Union and the strength of the federal government were subjected to repeated and trying tests.

In dealing with our colonial and revolutionary annals, a great difficulty had to be encountered in the mythic and heroic character above, beyond, often wholly apart from the truth of history, with which, in the popular idea, the fathers and founders of our American Republic have been invested. American literature having been mainly of the rhetorical cast, and the Revolution, and the old times of the forefathers, forming standing subjects for periodical eulogies, in which every new orator strives to outvie his predecessors, the true history of those times, in spite of copious cotemporary records, such as the infancy of no other nation can show, illustrated by the labors of many diligent and conscientious inquirers, has yet been almost obliterated by declamations which confound all discriminating and just appreciation in one confused glare of patriotic eulogium.

To pass from these mythical and heroic times to those which form the subject of the present volumes is like suddenly dropping from the golden to the brazen and iron ages of the poets. Of this period, as of the other, the current notions are principally derived from rhetorical effusions, but effusions in which the damnatory element comes to bear much the larger proportion — the little knowledge generally possessed of it being mainly imbibed from political writers, themselves often ill informed, and whose object it generally is to serve some temporary party purpose by reviving old prej. udices and misapprehensions fast becoming obsolete. It is, indeed, most curious to observe, as to

certain personages conspicuous as well in revolutionary as in subsequent times, how, in the passage from the one period to the other, they are suddenly stripped, in the popular mind, of that superhuman magnanimity and disinterestedness so commonly ascribed to all the men of the Revolution, becoming thenceforth mere ordinary mortals, objects of sharp, bitter, and often unmerited obloquy.

It has been my earnest endeavor, now, as formerly, guarding, so far as might be, against these current illusions, to present, through a pure medium of impartial truth and justice, the events and characters of the times of which I write, undis. torted by prejudice, uncolored by sentiment, neither tricked out in the gaudy tinsel of a meretricious rhetoric, nor stretched nor shortened to suit the purposes of any partial political theory.

Yet the nature of the subject and the extended method of treatment the chief interest of the narrative being now mainly concentrated upon a few leading and conspicuous characters, whose personal qualities and particular views come to exercise a not inconsiderable influence over the progress of affairs, and whose opinions and actions are dwelt upon at length-must naturally give to some portions of the present work somewhat more of an emotional character than was consistent with the multiplicity and rapid succession of events in the former volumes, and the reduced scale upon which almost every thing had in consequence to be exhibited. Very likely the charge of partisanship may now be urged by some of those same

critics who thought those volumes too apathetic and coldly impartial. For, though both works have been written in the same spirit, and, with allowances for the variations above pointed out, on the same plan, a few figures, large as life, and kept for a length of time before the eye, though the general style of art be in no respect different, will naturally produce a different effect from nu. merous groups, mostly in miniature, succeeding each other with panoramic rapidity.

The present volume embraces the administration of Washington, a period of the greatest importance, as having fixed upon the federal government that character and those methods of ad. ministration which it has ever since retained ; important, also, for the origin and array of the party divisions which form a chief subject of the entire work.

The second volume will include the administration of John Adams; the downfall of the Federalists; the transfer of power to the Republican party by the election of Jefferson; and his administration, starting with the proposal to reduce exercises of federal authority to a minimum, and ending with those very extraordinary measures of the embargo and non-intercourse.

The third volume, in relating the administration of Madison, will exhibit the theories of the two political parties brought to the test of a severe experience, by which both the one and the other, but especially the dominant party, were driven to occupy, in a great measure, the very position of

their political opponents—a change of ground which, in combination with other causes, produced a complete extinction, during Monroe's first term, of the old party divisions so far as they were grounded upon any thing more than mere personal and local antipathies; which, indeed, had exercised from the beginning an influence by no means inconsiderable..

These three volumes, while they serve as a continuation of the three already published, will, like those, constitute also a separate work, complete in itself.

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