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Che Chief Chronicles of our Country's Greatness,




IN the compilation of the work which is contained in these volumes, we are confident that we have performed an acceptable service to the American public. Former editions of the presidents' messages have been imperfect and incomplete in many respects; particularly in having been taken, in some instances, from incorrect copies, and abounding in typographical errors; also in the omission of numerous important special messages. These defects we have now endeavored to remedy; in the first place, by a careful comparison of the copies in these pages, with official documents; and, secondly, by diligent research, to supply the special messages and inaugural addresses omitted in former compilations. It is hoped that this collection will be found to contain every address and message of all our presidents, from Washington to the present chief magistrate, which may be deemed important to elucidate the political history of this country, or to satisfy any reference that may be made by inquirers. The copious index, which is inserted at the end of the third volume, is a new feature of this compilation, that former editions have wanted; and, of course, their value for reference has been greatly impaired, by that omission.

The communications of the executive of this great republic to the national legislature, and the expositions of his policy and principles to his fellow-citizens, on entering upon the duties of his high office, must always be of interest to every intelligent and patriotic American. To most of these productions of statesmen who have been elevated by the voice of their countrymen to the chief magistracy of the nation, we may point with satisfaction, as containing lessons of political wisdom which will endure through all time. In this respect they will compare favorably with similar productions in the annals of any other nation.

To render these writings of the American presidents more valuable and complete, as a continued national history, from the adoption of our constitution to the present time, we have accompanied them with a brief memoir of each president, and a history of the events of his administration. The latter sketches include an account of the most important transactions of Congress, at every session since the year 1789, and a de

tail of the prominent political events and movements of parties during each period.

In the preparation of the memoirs of the presidents, and the history of their administrations, we have consulted the most authentic writers on American history, as will appear by our quotations from their works; to which we here desire to express our acknowledgments. In this portion of our labors, we have endeavored to perform the part of a faithful and candid historian, whose office it is to relate events, and explain causes, without favor or prejudice. We feel the utmost confidence that intelligent and impartial readers will duly appreciate this task.

The Constitution of the United States, the Articles of Confederation, and the Declaration of Independence, must always form a portion of the text-book of the American statesman; and, indeed, of every citizen who understands his duties to the republic. These documents are, therefore, added to this collection, accompanied with notes, and an historical sketch of the political events which led to the adoption of these Magna-Chartas of our liberties. In the appendix will be found a variety of useful statistical information, so arranged as to be convenient for reference.

The American who loves his country, will examine with pleasure, as well as patriotic pride, the political history unfolded in the following voluminous pages of documents, biography, and narrative. He will behold the republic founded and established by the valor and wisdom of his ancestors, in the different stages of her progress-from the dawn of her existence as an independent power, through the blessing of Providence, overcoming every difficulty and danger-advancing in population, wealth, and territory, until she has acquired the first rank, in physical and moral ability, among the nations of the earth.

June, 1854.

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