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THE REGISTER OF DEBATES IN CONGRESS is intended to supply a deficiency in our Political Annals which the Editors have long perceived, and which has been universally acknowledged and regretted by those who have mingled in public affairs, and especially by such as have engaged in the active discharge of political duties. When we consider the importance of preserving the memorials of the Legislation of the country, it would be a matter of surprise that the undertaking should have been deferred so long as to fall into the present hands, if the magnitude of the undertaking, and its consequent hazard to the publishers, did not manifestly present serious obstacles to its execution. The favorable position of the Editors, their opportunities for obtaining accurate Reports of the Debates, operated upon by their conviction of the utility of such a work, have induced them to commence the Register, in defiance of its difficulties, without the aid or prospect of any other patronage than such as liberal and enlightened individuals may extend to it.
The object of the Register is to present, from year to year, in a portable but durable form, with facilities for ready reference to its contents, the History of the Legislation of the Government of the United States. In the DEBATES, which form the bulk of the volume, will be found the grounds on which the various propositions of the session were, at the time of their discussion, advocated or opposed. These Debates are not in all cases literally reported, but their substantial accuracy may be entirely relied upon : and, did this volume contain nothing more than the Debates, it might, as a manual for politicians, or a text book for students, claim a place in the library of every seminary, and in the closet of every reading man. But to render the volume still more valuable, there have been incorporated in it not only all the MESSAGES of the President of the United States to both Houses of Congress during the Session, but also, in the Appendix, such a selection of the most important REPORTS from the different departments of the Government, and from the leading committees of each House, as will afford a clear view of those features of the policy of the Government which may not be so fully developed in the Debates. To these are added the whole body of the Acts passed during the Session, in a form to be as implicitly relied upon as the official edition : the whole being rendered complete by an Index, by the aid of which the reader can instantly refer to any subject embraced in the volume.
No merit is claimed for the contents of the Register on the score of originality. It professes to be no more than a careful compilation of authentic materials. The merit, however, to which this work may justly prefer a claim, is that of faithful History, free from the bias of prejudice or prepossession, and from the accidental distortions to which all traditionary accounts are liable. It is a History which cannot deceive, because it reflects, in the faith. ful mirror of Truth, not only the motives of public acts, but also the grounds on which those acts were opposed. Its impartiality may defy the most fastidious scrutiny.
of the first attempt at a work of this kind, it would not be reasonable to expect that either the plan, or the execution of the plan, would be perfect. The Register makes no such pretension. The object of the work being to embody the Debates and striking Incidents only of the sittings of Congress, the possessor of this volume will be disappointed if he look to find in it a Journal of the two Houses of Congress. No part of their Proceedings is given except what involves Debate, or some Incident, novel or important in its character, and therefore worthy of preservation. The careful reader therefore will not be able to trace from