to the staples, the other as a rule depending little upon staple production.

The dynamic view is full of significance; industry and society while apparently static were really in continuous motion and change. Affairs proceeded much in a routine; but no repetition of process was ever quite identical with its preceding occurrence.

The routine itself was essentially dynamic. Impelled by the force of competition and directed by the requirements of capitalized industry, the plantation régime promoted the growth of slaveholding accretions and extended the black belts wherever gang labor could be made the most effective system.




In the spring of 1902 the Queen of the Netherlands issued a mandate to some ten of the foremost historical scholars of her kingdom, constituting them a Commission of Advice for National Historical Publications. Meeting from time to time, and proceeding with proper Dutch deliberation, the commission elaborated a valuable and suggestive report, which was presented nearly two years later. In this they take up in a methodical manner the general aspects and the various subdivisions of the national history, and discuss carefully under each head the state of the original materials requisite for thorough knowledge and the question what portions of that material have been made accessible in print and what portions still. remain that ought to be published. The whole proceeding was eminently Dutch, characteristic of a cautious and prudent nation, that can afford the time to do things on a right plan. Great as is the mass of published material for the history of the Netherlands, the government itself had in the last seventy years done much less of this work than several of the other European governments. There was a general feeling that more should be done. But those who had the matter most at heart had no mind that the government should proceed haphazard, printing this or that body of documentary material because it had been often talked of, or because some enthusiast, having for the first time made its acquaintance, had conceived an exaggerated notion of its importance and had persuaded some facile official to let him print it at government expense after some mode of editing dictated by his own fancy. On the contrary, the most expert intelligence available by the nation was first to consider with deliberate care the question what most needed to be done, and was then to devise a general and relatively permanent plan for doing it. The immediate result was a highly interesting survey, exhibiting clearly the relative documentation of the different parts or phases of Dutch history. The future result will be a well-ordered system of volumes and series, by which gaps will be filled and existing collections supplemented, so that in the

A paper read before the Columbian Historical Society of Washington, D. C.

? Commissie van Adries voor 's Rijks Geschiedkundige Publicatiën, Overzicht van de door Brunnenpublicatie aan te vullen Leemten der Nederlandsche Geschiedkennis (Hague, Nijhoff, 1904, pp. ix, 108).

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end the original sources for the national history may be evenly presented.

In reading such a survey, it was impossible not to be struck with the thought, how largely the method followed was applicable to the United States. For our briefer history, though the national government has done relatively little, much documentary material has already been published. But much yet remains to be done, and we are proceeding to do it without system or order. Executive departments of the federal government, or clerks of Congressional committees, conceive and execute documentary compilations; but all is casual and miscellaneous. More than half the state governments are publishing or have published historical materials; and no two have followed the same plan. Historical societies are prone to publish what seems at the moment most interesting or most available, provided of course it is of date anterior to 1783, at which date for most of them American history comes to an end; certainly they seldom pay any regard to what other historical societies are doing. Many zealous individuals have added and are adding to the mass of valuable documentary print; but still in a casual manner. The result is chaos. Some parts of our history are relatively oversupplied with original material, while others are in this regard neglected, and therefore remain unwritten, or are left a prey to those writers who do not need documentary material in order to compose historical volumes. Figuratively speaking, we have bought enormous quantities of supplies for our excavations, we have engaged our workers, we have dug deeply here and there; but we have "made the dirt fly" before we have mapped our isthmus. Or, to vary the metaphor but still keep near to the earth, one great region of our national domain, the historical region, is still, so far as primary labors are concerned, largely an unsurveyed tract, subject to squatter settlement and squatter sovereignty. Would it not be more rational to take a lesson from the methodical procedure of the Dutch?

It would be both futile and presumptuous for an individual student to attempt, in any length of time, to make for his country so well-rounded a survey as that which has resulted from the joint labors of the Dutch commission. Yet it has seemed possible that, without attempting a detailed survey of the field, one might by a hasty sketch contribute to the evening's entertainment of a historical society, and perhaps suggest some thoughts that others might at a later time elaborate and even execute. It should be fully understood that in this sketch there is no thought of general histories or of monographs, of the question whether on this or that subject a historical work has or has not been written. The sole thought is of that prior and more fundamental question, what materials exist and are available for the treatment of the subject, assuming that some one should wish to write upon it, or that, if already dealt with, it has not been treated in the light of all the evidence procurable. Suppose that nothing had yet been written on American history; in what state are the materials for attacking it? In order to have any practical utility, such an inquiry, it should also be observed, presupposes that we confine ourselves to materials which, however difficult of access or of use, still do exist. An absolutely even documentation of American history is not to be hoped for. We will limit ourselves to the consideration of the problem, how to do the best possible with that which the ravages of time, of war, of paper-makers, and of housewives have spared to us.

Vor can there be any thought of dealing with all the periods and subdivisions of American history. Only an illustrative selection can be attempted. If that selection is made mainly in the field of constitutional and political history, let no one make it a matter of reproach. It may well be that the historical writers of the next generation will lay all their emphasis on social and economic history. In France and Germany the tendency is already strong in this direction, and among us one sees the pendulum beginning to swing that way. Each age has its own fashion in the writing of history. “ Historical writing”, said Mark Pattison, “is one of the most ephemeral forms of literary composition.” But even after the tide has set in the direction of economic and social history strongly, even violently, as is the manner of American currents, even in that socialistic millennium toward which we are no doubt advancing, it is to be hoped that students, however fascinated with the narrative and the theory of social movement, however penetrated with the conviction that economic forces have controlled all human destinies, will yet remember that for the last four hundred years the actual form in which human life has mainly run its course has been that of the nation. Perhaps we are approaching a period in which the leading organization of mankind shall be the industrial, when the union of unions or the war of trusts shall be more important than the union of states or the conflict of nations. But the whole course of American history thus far has lain in the era of nations, during which the most potent and visible unity of human affairs was the political. It seems then needless to apologize if, in a discussion of the materials for American history, printed and unprinted, one speaks primarily of those which relate to the constitutional and political history of the United States and of the colonies out of which they grew.

Beginning with the colonial period, it is first of all to be observed, how far from adequate is our supply of published materials for the history of British control and administration. First in logical order stand the King and the Privy Council, and first perhaps among the desiderata is a properly edited series into which shall be drawn off from the manuscript records in London all those acts of the Privy Council, or orders of the King in Council, and accompanying papers, which relate in any way to the British colonies in America. The Acts of the Privy Council have been for some time in process of publication by the British government. But now that the series is approaching the accession of James I. and the period when it would be useful to students of American history, we are told that it will not be extended beyond the end of Queen Elizabeth's reign. All the more reason why the American entries in the subsequent period should be drawn off and published, that we may have a complete and consecutive record of the doings of what was once the highest administrative and in most matters the highest judicial body of our government. Such a series is not limited, by the phrase used above, to the thirteen colonies of the mainland, and it should not be so limited. There is no more fruitful source of error, or at least of incomplete understanding, in respect to the British colonial administration in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, than the habit of confining attention to those thirteen colonies which finally established their independence. The only rational mode is to consider that administration as a whole, as a system embracing sometimes colonies to the northward and always a group of insular colonies to the southward, some of them usually more regarded, as elements in the system, than most of the colonies on the mainland. Accordingly our proposed series of Acts and Papers of the King in Council relating to America should not fail to include those entries in the registers of the Privy Council which refer to the West-Indian and other colonies of Great Britain as well as those which have to do with the affairs of the “Old Thirteen ". Nor should the series stop with 1776, nor even with 1783, when the thirteen colonies were acknowledged to be outside of British colonial jurisdiction. On the contrary, it should be continued to 1815, for in those thirty years of warfare with France many Orders in Council besides those most famous orders of November, 1807, were of moment to American history. Also, it should of course embrace the relevant acts of the Council of State under the Commonwealth.

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