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PREFACE TO VOLUME V.
HISTORIES of the late war, springing from various sources, viewed from different standpoints, and written in varied interests, already abound. The present volume, in its own way, gives what may be called the diplomatic view of the conflict. Without such a record the student of history would miss an important element.
This volume, we need not say, covers a period of our country's history not second in importance to that which gave is the Constitution. And it may be added that Washington and Hamilton were not more necessary to the formation of the Union than were Lincoln and Seward to its preservation.
In the preparation of this volume we have been encouraged in the belief that material of history was being gathered which would otherwise be inaccessible to the public.
The contents of the volume require but few prefatory remarks.
The MEMOIR makes but slight pretensions to a Biography. It aims simply to recite, in a brief way, the great events of the period of which Mr. Seward was so large a part. Their narration may seem a biography.
THE DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENCE OF THE WAR, as published by Congress, filled more than twenty large volumes. Large editions of the later volumes were printed. It also reappeared in newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, and books, and was eagerly read by millions of patriotic people. The effect was not unlike that produced on the public mind, at another crisis in our country's history, by the publication of Hamilton's letters in the - Federalist.'
Congress, it is hoped, following illustrious precedent, will at some
early day publish an edition of the “ Diplomatic Correspondence of 1861-9" for the use of coming generations.
The DIARY, OR NOTES ON THE WAR, in this volume, is made from the Diplomatic Correspondence, being those portions of Mr. Seward's almost daily despatches to our Ministers abroad, designed to give them authentic annals of the progress of the war.
The views given were usually those also of the Executive.
The SELECTIONS FROM DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENCE embrace ninety-eight of Mr. Seward's despatches, selected with the desire of giving as fair and as full a view as possible of Mr. Seward's philosophy; as well as a history of the diplomatic relations of the country during the war. The Trent affair, the officious interference of France and England in the forms of recognition and mediation, the rebel cruisers, the Alabama claims, the invasion of Mexico by France, are among the subjects quite fully presented in the “ Selections." Questions of international law are discussed.
Under the head of OCCASIONAL SPEECHES and MISCELLANEOUS PAPERS the remainder of the volume partakes more of a domestic character. Mr. Seward's attention was not wholly devoted to foreign affairs. His public speeches made both before and after his retirement from office, are as interesting as they are pertinent. Many of them, in their familiar style, serve to show the cheerful tone and the great versatility of his mind. However impromptu some of them may appear, none of them will be found lacking in wise and patriotic counsel.
DOCUMENTS and PAPERS, identified with our country's history, emanating from, or bearing the name of Mr. Seward, fill the concluding pages of the volume.