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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1839, by
JA RED SPARKS,
in the Clerk's office of the District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
The contents of this volume are essentially the same, as those of the volume prefixed to WashingTON's Writings. It being designed chiefly for readers, who may not have access to that work, such additions have been made, as the prescribed space would admit, and as would contribute to enhance its value in this form of a separate publication.
The materials for the Life, as well as for the large work, have been drawn from a great variety of sources; from the manuscripts at Mount Vernon, papers in the public offices of London, Paris, Washington, and all the old Thirteen States; and also from the private papers of many of the principal leaders in the Revolution. The entire mass of manuscripts left by General Washington, consisting of more than two hundred folio volumes, was in the author's hands ten years. From these materials it has been his aim to select and combine the most important facts, tending to exhibit in their true light the character, actions, and opinions of Washington. The narrative form was chosen, as the best suited to his object. He has not attempted to write an essay, dissertation, or eulogy, but has confined himself to a biographical sketch, introducing events and incidents in their natural order, with no other remarks or reflections of his own, than such as seemed necessary to preserve just proportions in the parts, and a unity in the whole. Such has been the author's aim; how far he has succeeded in attaining it, the reader will judge.
In delineating the career of Washington, nearly the whole of whose life was passed on a conspicuous public theatre, it is not possible for his biographer to avoid encroaching at almost every step on the department of history. His personal and public acts were so closely identified with each other, that they can seldom be separated. The narrow limits of this narrative, compared with the extent of the subject, would not allow of digressions; and, from the nature of the task, no more could be done than to touch on the historical events in which he was immediately concerned, although these may have been intimately connected with many others of great moment. Whoever would understand the character of Washington, in all its compass and grandeur, must learn it from his own writings, and from a complete history of his country during the long period in which he was the most prominent actor.