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public prosperity and the preservation of our liberties, it is hoped this work may bear at least an humble part.

In its preparation, a determination to confine it to its present limits has been rigidly adhered to; and the difficulty has been, in traversing the vast field of our political record, rather to determine what could be excluded than what should be admitted. Facts and explanations are condensed into the smallest space consistent with a clear and distinct exposition of the origin and growth of parties, their changes and revolutions, and their position on questions of great national interest.

The controlling purpose has been to render the work strictly historical. In the presentation of dates and principles, the action of Congress and the Executive, the views of eminent statesmen on questions at issue, the formation and position of parties, in addition to the official records of the Government-which have been the principal source of information—a large range of approved and standard authors have been consulted.

The statistical information appended, it is believed, will not be destitute of value. Such as has not been compiled expressly for this work has been drawn from sources entitled to great confidence. The Constitution is a certified copy, and is free from errors, which too commonly exist to

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the injury of those who make that instrument a study.

It is possible that errors may be detected in this book; it is hoped, however, that they are of a minor character. No effort has been spared to render it correct and reliable, and, as such, emphatically a Hand-Book of political intelligence for the politician and statesman, and a source of desirable information to the people.

To facilitate reference, in addition to a full index, the topics of greatest interest are so headed as to indicate at once their locality.

With an humble trust that this volume will prove a means of culture, of laying broader and deeper faith in the capacity of the people for self-government, and in fostering a spirit of devotion to the interests of our free institutions, it is respectfully submitted to the public.

CORTLAND, NEW YORK, August, 1859.

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