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In taking leave of a work which has called for much time and consideration during the past five years, I feel first of all a sense of gratitude to the good worthies who had sufficient interest in the affairs of their times, and sufficient sense of their own importance in the eyes of posterity, to provide such rich material for our use. Theirs is the delineator's task throughout the American History told by Contemporaries: if the pupils in schools, the readers in libraries and at home, teachers and searchers, find the books useful, it is because our forefathers did interesting things and left entertaining records. In my own mind I find the story of the nation's development clearer for the suggestions made by the writers of these four volumes. They are prejudiced; they see but a part of what is going on; they leave many gaps; but, after all, they
tell the story.
The selection has been difficult because of the mass of excellent materials, and much that is valuable had to be left aside for lack of space. I have tried to let advocates of both sides speak on all great contested questions ; to call upon the best informed and best disposed witnesses ; to give examples of the writings of the nation's leaders ; to let no significant episode pass unpresented. In the latter part of this volume it has not been possible to appeal to many diaries and collections of letters, for they have not yet come into print, or even into collections of manuscripts ; but there are plenty of other forms of available writings. Official documents have, as in the previous volumes, been left for the most part to other collections.
At this stage of the work it is not necessary to apologize for the system of literal transcripts from the originals; changes of spelling and grammar would in any case be few in the writings of the last half cen
tury, and the simplest rule is to stick to the copy. Beyond reasons of