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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1853,
BY J. S. REDFIELD,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States in and for the
Southern District of New York.
In this collection of Mr. Seward's Works, it is intended to present the public, not only with his more elaborate speeches and writings, but also with his occasional and unstudied efforts. The principles and measures of public policy, which he has maintained, receive as clear an illustration from the latter class of his productions, as from his more systematic and finished performances. They are, accordingly, important, at a time when the political views of Mr. Seward have become the subject of discussion, in every quarter of the union.
It has often been regretted that so few of the speeches of the eminent men of a former age have been preserved. The history of our own country, especially, has suffered from this neglect. We search in vain for the speeches even of James Otis, which, in the words of one of his contemporaries, "breathed the breath of life into this nation." The facilities of the present day leave no excuse for a similar neglect in regard to our own orators and statesmen.
The Editor of these volumes, though by no means unconscious of his slight qualifications for so important a task, has attempted to collect and prepare for publication the following work of WILLIAM H. SEWARD. A desire to aid in disseminating the doctrines and principles they contain, as well as to preserve them
in a permanent form, must plead his apology. For a number of years, it has been his wish, to bring these works before the public. He has only waited for the time, when they could be produced without exciting a suspicion of personal or partisan objects. That time, in his opinion, has now arrived.
It is, however, perhaps too much to expect, even now, a candid hearing from all parties.. "Nothing," says Mr. Seward, in one of his letters," that I can do or say, or that can be said or done by my friends, is suffered to pass without exciting alarms lest it may have an ambitious design that I almost despise."
To the friends of republican principles and of the claims of justice and freedom everywhere, the Editor believes these volumes will be welcome, and to such they are respectfully dedicated. To the friends of Mr. Seward, also, they will be acceptable, as a complete refutation of the various misrepresentations of his acts and opinions, current in the community, supplying a want long felt and frequently expressed. To many of these friends, the Editor is already indebted for assistance and encouragement in his undertaking, for which, he avails himself of this place to express his acknowledgments.
The difficulty of preparing a select edition of Mr. Seward's works was felt at the outset, and after a full view of the matter, it was determined to embrace every thing of which there had been any public record. Ample limits, as it was thought at the time, were accordingly assigned for the work. But the extraordinary amount of interesting and valuable matter that presented itself for publication required a modification of the original plan. It is therefore proper to say, that this collection does not include all of Mr. Seward's productions. Those, however, which have been omitted, were comparatively of local and temporary importance, and, in many cases, were too imperfectly reported for publication. At the same time, nothing has been left out of the edition on account of any peculiar sentiment or opin
ion it expressed; but, on the contrary, every thing which has been particularly obnoxious to controversy has been carefully included.
The MEMOIR which follows, though written with heartfelt admiration of the subject, has constantly aimed to avoid indiscriminate eulogy, and to present a simple but complete record of Mr. Seward's life.
The SPEECHES IN THE SENATE OF NEW YORK contained in this volume, while they will serve to show the first exercise of that power of debate, which now in its full development excites an interest throughout the country, will give the reader a fresh view of many important political questions of State and National policy.
The SPEECHES AND DEBATES IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES form a complete record of Mr. Seward's efforts in that body down to the close of the XXXIId Congress. Several speeches delivered after the first volume of these works had gone to press, will be found in the third volume.
The FORENSIC ARGUMENTS in this volume include Mr. Seward's pleas in the case of J. Fenimore Cooper vs. Greeley & McElrath; in defence of William Freeman; in the case of Jones vs. Van Zandt, under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1793; in the case of Many vs. Treadwell, a Patent case; and in defence of Abel F. Fitch and others, in the celebrated Railroad Trial at Detroit. Several others, possessing almost equal interest, has been selected for a place in the works, but the limits already prescribed made it necessary to omit them. Among these may be named an argument in the case of Wilson vs. Rousseau,* involving the merits of the Woodworth Patent, and an Opinion delivered by Mr. Seward while a member of the Court of Errors, in the case of Parks vs. Jackson.t
* Blatchford's Circuit Court Reports, Vol. I. page 8. Wendell's Reports, Vol. IX. page 456.
Three ENGRAVINGS accompany these volumes-a Portrait of Mr. Seward his Birth-Place-and his Residence at Auburn.
The portrait is a faithful copy of a daguerreotype taken for the purpose.
The view of Mr. Seward's early home, in the second volume, was engraved from a sketch, recently made, of the old house which is still standing in the village of Florida, in Orange County.
The view of his present residence at Auburn, in the third volume, is from a daguerrotype taken in mid-winter. A brief description of the mansion and grounds will be found in the Preface to that volume.
WILLIAMSBURG, L. I., March 1, 1853.