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More than ten years have elapsed since the first publication of the following work, during which period, it has passed through forty-four editions, comprising more than one hundred and fifty thousand copies. The inconvenience attending frequent alterations in a school-book, in connection with the unexpected patronage of the work, has deterred the author from attempting any revision of it, although he has been aware, for years, that it admitted of important improvements.
At length, admonished that the advanced state of our schools ana academies demands a more full and complete work, the author has devoted some months to a careful and thorough revision of it. Besides correcting some errors, he has endeavored to supply important deficiencies, especially in relation to the earlier and later portions of the History, by which the quantity of matter has been greatly increased. He has, in particular, endeavored to do more justice to the “forefathers” of the land, in compliance with a suggestion of the late distinguished principal* of the Female Seminary in Wethersfield, Ct., whose public recommendation of the work was as flattering as unexpected.
The author has retained the plan originally adopted, from a conviction of its general excellence; and in this he has been strengthened by the patronage which has been given to the work by a generous, but discerning public. For the benefit of the pupil, who may not at once understand the plan of the volume, the following brief explanation is added :—The principal object of dividing the History into periods is to aid the memory, by presenting certain marked eras, from which the whole subject of dates may be readily and distinctly viewed.
Two sizes of type are employed. The matter in larger type is designed to give a brief outline of the History of the United States, and may be read in connection. The matter in smaller type is to be regarded rather in the light of notes, which, without studying exact regularity, are thrown in as they may subserve the purposes of illustration and completeness in the delineation of events, or as they may contribute to support the interest and establish the recollections of the reader.
* Rev. Joseph Emerson.
THE study of History presents the following advantages :
1. It sets before us striking instances of virtue, enterprise, courage, generosity, patriotism ; and, by a natural principle of emulation, incites us to copy such noble examples. History also presents us with pictures of the vicious ultimately overtaken by misery and shame, and thus solemnly warns us against vice,
2. History, to use the words of Professor Tytler, is the school of politics. That is, it opens the hidden springs of human affairs; the causes of the rise, grandeur, revolutions and fall of empires : it points out the influence which the manners of a people exert upon a government, and the influence which that government reciprocally exerts upon the manners of a people : it illustrates the blessings of political union, and the miseries of faction; the dangers of unbridled liberty, and the mischiefs of despotic power.
3. History displays the dealings of God with mankind. It calls upon us often to regard with awe his darker judgments ;; and again it awakens the liveliest emotions of gratitude for his kind and benignant dispensations. It cultivates a sense of dependence on him, strengthens our confidence in his benevolence, and impresses us with a conviction of his justice.
4. Besides these advantages, the study of History, if properly conducted, offers others, of inferior importance, ir.deed, but still they are not to be disregarded. It chastens the imagination; improves the taste; furnishes matter for reflection ; enlarges the range of thought; strengthens and disciplines the mind.
5. To the above it may be added, that the History of the United States should be studied, 1. Because it is the history of our own country. 2. Because it is the history of the first civil government ever established upon the genuine basis of freedom. 3. Because it furnishes lessons upon the science of civil government, social happiness, and religious freedom, of greater value than are to be found in the history of any other nation on the globe. 4. Because it presents uncommon examples of the influence of religious principle. 5. Because an acquaintance with it will enable a person better to fulfil those duties which, in a free government, he may be called to discharge.
The History of the United States of America may be divided into Twelve Periods, each distinguished by some striking characteristic, or remarkable circumstance.
The First PERIOD will extend from the Discovery of America by Columbus, 1492, to the first permanent English settlement in America, at Jamestown, Virginia, 1607, and is distinguished for DiscoveRIES.
Obs. Previous to the discovery of America in 1492, the innaditants of Europe, Asia, and Africa, were of course, ignorant of its existence. But soon after this event, several expeditions were fitted out, for the purpose of making discoveries in what was then called the “ New World.” Accordingly, between 1492 and 1607, the principal countries lying along the eastern coast of North America, were discovered, and more or less expl lored. As our history, during this period, embraces little more than accounts of these expeditions, we characterize it as remarkable for discoveries.
The Second PERIOD will extend from the Settlement of Jamestown, 1607, to the accession of William and Mary to the throne of England, 1689, and is distinguished for SETTLEMENTS.
Obs. During this period our history is principally occupied in detailing the various settlements, which were either effected or attempted, within the boundaries of the United States. It includes, indeed, wars with the natives-disputes between proprie tors of lands and colonies—the formation of governments, &c. &c.; but these are circumstances which pertain to, and form a part of, the settlement of new countries. As this period embraces the settlement of most of the original states in the Union, viz. Massachusetts, including Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, North and South Carolina, and Virginia, it is therefore characterized as remarkable for settlements.
The Third PERIOD will extend from the accession of William and Mary to the throne of England, 1689, to the declaration of the war by England against France, called “the French and Indian War," 1756, and is ree markable for the three wars of King WILLIAM, QUEEN Anne, and George II.
Obs. So long as the colonies remained attached to the English crown, they became involved, of course, in the wars of the mother country. Three times, during this period, was war proclaimed between England and France; and, as the French had possession of Canada, and were leagued with several powerful tribes of Indians, as often did the colonies become the theatre of their hostile operations. This period is therefore most remarkable for these three wars.
The FOURTH PERIOD will extend from the Declaration of war by England against France, 1756, to the commencement of hostilities by Great Britain against the American Colonies, in the battle of Lexington, 1775, and is distinguished for the FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR.
The FIFTH PERIOD will extend from the Battle of Lexington, 1775, to the disbanding of the American Army at West Point, New York, 1783, and is distinguished for the WAR OF THE REVOLUTION.
The Sixtu PERIOD will extend from the Disbanding of the Army, 1783, to the Inauguration of George Washington, as President of the United States, under the Federal Constitution, 1789, and is distinguished for the FORMATION AND ESTABLISHMENT OF THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION.
The SEVENTH PERIOD will extend from the Inauguration of President Washington, 1789, to the Inauguration of John Adams, as President of the United States, 1797. This period is distinguished for WASHINGTON's ADMINISTRATION.
The Eighth PERIOD will extend from the Inauguration of President Adams, 1797, to the Inauguration of Thomas Jefferson, as President of the United States, 1801. This period is distinguished for Adams's ADMINISTRATION.
The Ninth PERIOD will extend from the Inauguration of President Jefferson, 1801, to the Inauguration of James Madison, as President of the United States, 1809. This period is distinguished for JEFFERSON'S ADMINISTRATION.
The Tenth PERIOD will extend from the Inauguration of President Madison, 1809, to the Inauguration of James Monrce, as President of the United States, 1817. This period is distinguished for Madison's ADMINISTRATION, and the late WAR WITH GREAT BRITAIN.
The ELEVENTH Period will extend from the Inauguration of President Monroe, 1817, to the Inauguration of John Quincy Adams, as President of the United States, 1825. This period is distinguished for MonROE'S ADMINISTRATION.
The Twelfth Period will extend from the Inauguration of President Adams, 1825, to the Inauguration of Andrew Jackson, as President of the United States, 1829. This period is distinguished for Adams's AdMINISTRATION.