From the PREFACE. THE history of the thirteen American colonies is at best fragmentary and provincial, and does not assume the importance and value of the history of a nation until the meeting of the Stamp Act Congress at New York in the year 1765. But who and what the people were who fought the war for Independence and founded the United States-what was their life, what their habits, thoughts, and manners-seemed to me, when I began my study of American history, questions of the deepest interest. They were questions, too, ...
From the PREFACE. THE history of the thirteen American colonies is at best fragmentary and provincial, and does not assume the importance and value of the history of a nation until the meeting of the Stamp Act Congress at New York in the year 1765. But who and what the people were who fought the war for Independence and founded the United States-what was their life, what their habits, thoughts, and manners-seemed to me, when I began my study of American history, questions of the deepest interest. They were questions, too, which appeared to me never to have been answered in a compact and comprehensive form; and this volume is an attempt to supply the deficiency. The chapters, therefore, which purport to describe the various colonies in and about the year 1765 represent the purpose of the book. They have been worked out, in the course of several years, from a mass of material which has been collected in all directions, and which, although wholly in print, is in many cases as generally unknown as if it still slumbered in manuscript. To these chapters I have appended notes - mere references - partly to support conclusions which 1 thought might be questioned, and partly to aid other students in the same field. The notes represent, however, only a portion of the books, tracts, and newspapers actually consulted. There are many titles in my note-books of works which yielded nothing, and of others again which offered matter that had to be laid aside from mere superabundance of material: only the most valuable and important figure in the notes. When I had finished these chapters for which the work was undertaken, and which have been in part delivered in the form of lectures before the Lowell Institute of Boston, I felt that it was essential to my purpose to give an outline of the political history of each colony, in order to present a complete picture of the various communities. These sketches are as condensed as I could make them, although they have run to a far greater length than I hoped would be necessary. They make absolutely no pretence to original research, but are merely my own presentation of facts which ought to be familiar to everyone. For this reason I have thought it entirely superfluous to encumber them with notes. The question of arrangement was not an easy one where thirteen distinct histories were involved; but, after much reflection, I decided to deal with each colony by itself, and give its complete history down to the year 1765. This plan is open to the charge of repetition; but it seemed to me better than flitting from one colony to another, and thus distracting the reader's attention more than was absolutely necessary. The three concluding chapters are added, like those which treat of the political history of each colony, merely for the sake of completeness, and aim only to be a concise outline of the events which resulted in national existence. Many of the statistical details are, as I am only too well aware, very dry reading, and the same may be said of the political history of some of the colonies. It may be possible to make the political history of every colony in turn picturesque and exciting; but I know that in regard to certain of them, and in many portions of my history which could not be omitted, this was a task far beyond my powers. Yet at the same time I cannot but feel that the condition of the people of the American colonies in the years preceding the Revolution, however insufficiently I may have dealt with it, is a subject of deep interest and importance. I can only say that if anything I have written is of assistance to students, or helps any one to a better understanding of a nation and of a history of which we may be rightly proud, I shall feel more than repaid.
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