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LEST the neutral title of the following work should beguile any reader to assume that neutrality of opinion will pervade it, I warn him at once, on the threshold, that he will soon encounter a current of reasoning strongly adverse to the present doctrines and action of the Northern party. I have endeavoured to collect equally, and balance fairly, the evidence and argument on both sides. Having then formed a clear and strong conviction, may
be that its influence has guided the general tenor of the argument with an unintentional bias. If this be so, the reader will not complain that he has been thus forewarned; and may form his own deductions from the evidence placed before him. Complete impartiality of opinion on a subject of this nature, and during the excitement of its progress, is simply an impossibility. Whoever re
quires it must be contented to wait for thirty years. The pen of impartial history needs for its subject the events of a generation not our own.
There is, however, an essential difference between the plea of an advocate and the convictions expressed by one devoid of all interest in the case. The former may be composed of words expressly elaborated to entangle the judgment; the latter will represent conclusions, sincere, be they ever so erroneous. With the warning already given, it may be permitted to observe, that personal considerations and valued friendships incline me,
without exception, to the Northern side. Hence the opinions formed and expressed have not been adopted from choice, and are directly opposed to interest : they are convictions forced upon
the mind by the facts and reasoning now submitted to the reader's judgment.
I have carefully avoided the use of figures whenever possible. Those who desire detailed information can always command it in statistical works. Figures certainly impart a glittering appearance to the page; but I have found their effect upon myself, when so introduced, like that