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TO furnish the Public with a cheap History of America, from its discovery, to its present state of civilization and importance, is an undertaking of such general utility, that the attempt, if it even fall short of complete execution, has a claim to a considerable share of indulgence. This is more especially the case, when the writer has to follow an historian of such great and just celebrity as DR. ROBERTson, in at least one half of the work.
To compose such an Historical epitome as is de. sirable, from scattered materials, is a difficulty of such magnitude, as wholly to discourage the attempt; and to abridge the pages of so great an original, where there is nothing superfluous, nothing the reader would wish omitted, is a design, which to many will seem to border on temerity. But this abridgment has been preferred, as it is attended with the least chance of disappointment; and to borrow is not dishonourable, when the obligation is candidly acknowledged.
In what relates to South America, DR. ROBERTson's History has, therefore, been implicitly followed. His arrangement of the subject, his chronological order, and his very style have been adopted, as the best that can be chosen. To condense his details, to introduce only the most prominent and characteristic events, has been the principal effort, and invariable purpose of the Epitomizer: endeavouring as he progressed, to preserve unbroken the connection and continuity of events; and in the whole, to present the rea. der with a brief, but interesting view, of one of the most important æras in the annals of the World.
So far the writer travelled with pleasure: but, in tracing the subsequent part, the history of North America, he has cause to regret, with all his contemporaries, the absence of so pleasing and faithful a guide....being obliged to collect materials from different sources, none of which are complete, of all the British settlements in North America, from their first landing to their final separation from the parent state.
The settlement of these colonies being made at different periods, with charters of incorporation extremely variant, and with governments as distinct as their geographical boundaries, rendered a history of the British empire in America, extremely complex and difficult. From this heterogeneous mass, however, the writer has endeavoured, with considerable labour, to educe a summary of those events that paved the way to the American Revolution; and which will constitute the introduction to the future histories of the UNITED STATES.
In that portion of the work which succeeds the confederation of the colonies, and the consequent declaration of Independence, we set our feet on surer ground: we revive events that happened in our own memory; and of which there are faithful records within the reach of most of our readers. In treating on this part of the subject, it is not a very easy task, wholly to avoid that collision of opinions which is inseparable from free governments, and which constitutes so great a part in the annals of United America. This, however difficult, the writer has endeavoured to avoid, confining himself, as much as possible, to a history of facts, and to those only that are of a national concern. His principal object has been to present his readers with a comprehensive view of the whole, with out any respect to the politics of a single state or party; and to excite, if possible, a zeal for the general welfare and honour of our common country....How far he has succeeded in this, as well as other parts of the work, must be left to the candid reader; to whom it is now very respectfully submitted.