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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858,

BY HENRY HOWE, In the Clerk's office of the District Court of the United States, for the Southern

District of Ohio.

PREFACE

SINCE when, by the right of birth and the lapse of years, we were privi. leged to walk up, take the freeman's oath, and drop a ballot in the little box, so potent in this government of “the people,” we have been almost wholly engaged in the preparation and in the publication of books for circulation by traveling agents exclusively.

In the meanwhile, we have attained to a point where it has become “ past meridian” with us, and we now pen the preface to our sixth octavo. All of these, derived from varied sources, original or published, in our own or in the language of others, have been constructed with an especial reference to the wants of that class, who, either from habit or their isolation, rarely or never enter a bookstore, and who would, in a measure, be destitute of the information imparted by books, were they not brought for purchase to their very doors. We have the gratifying evidence that among these our publications have been widely popular; and, have proved the means, as we believe, of lasting pleasure and instruction to the inmates of many a humble cabin that dots the prairies or skirts the forests of the more remote West.

The title of this book was made before the book itself was begun. We have endeavored to adapt the contents to the name, in a collection of articles exhibiting national character, and mainly by individual examples. Such as are already sufficiently familiar to the public are, in general, not inserted, from a desire to render the work more attractive to our readers by its novelty. We have further aimed to gratify a variety of tastes, and to make this such, that it will be a favorite volume with every American family that may possess it.

This work; in its variety, is adapted to all classes; both male and female, young and old, the Christian, the philanthropist, those who read simply for excitement and those who read solely for information, will all find it a source of pleasure. We believe there is no work of our day that tends so greatly to gratify one's patriotism-to make one glad that he is an American citizen

as this; which shows so well the Heroism, Self-reliance, Genius and Enterprise of our Countrymen, in the Olden Time and in Our Time-in: Peace and in War-on Land and on Sea-at Home and Abroad, Those who obtain it will be proud of the facts it contains, for there is much, very much in it to send a thrill of exultant joy to the heart of every American.

We terminate the book in the twenty-third article, by a choice collection of about one hundred specimens of American Poetry, selected with refer. ence to diversified tastes and mental conditions. Contrary to general opinion, we believe that Poetry-giving that word a broad definition—is universally liked; that is, some ideas expressed by versification please all, better than the same given in prose, though we do think that Poetry, usually, relishes and digests easier, if, like sweetmeats, it is taken in small quan• tities at a single sitting.

Our engravings, in the highest style of art, are by eminent American artists, and were designed expressly for the book. We add, for the information of certain of our readers, a fact which, as a publisher, it becomes us to state, that the expense of these alone, in cash, was to us more than the cost, at government price, of a square mile of our national domain; yet, to many, this will be considered a useless expenditure, in view of the general want of appreciation of the excellent in Art, especially with the very large mass who judge of buik, and not quality, in their guage of the cost of books, and who would be content with crude and cheap illustrations. But the “ will do" is not our standard. We trust there is a vein of common sense, running through the great public, that in its final judgment duly appreciates those generous in their endeavors to render their offerings every way excellent.

But, not resting satisfied with even these, we have, at an additional expense of some four hundred dollars, had designed, expressly for the subscribers of this work, by that Artist of surpassing skill, Mr. F. O. C. Darley, and engraved in the mezzotint style, one of the most sublime and tragic scenes in American History, entitled, “The Last Words of Captain Nathan Hale, the Hero-Martyr of the American Revolution

My only regret is, that I have but one life to lose for my country.' On the left in this beautiful steel engraving, is shown the fatal Tree, with the Ladder, Rope, Coffin, and Negro Executioner. In front stands the majestic figure of the young Patriot, and that of the brutal Provost Marshal, the infamous Major Cunningham ; who, true to his character, had denied Hale his dying request for the Bible, and had also destroyed his letters to his friends; giving as reason for so doing, “ that the Rebels might not know they had a man who could die with such firmness."

The Engraving is a "cabinet” picture. It is the first time that this subject has been delineated by Art, and we can but feel grateful that we have been the means of thus having it perpetuated for all coming time, and in a design, too, which so greatly honors American genius. Each subscriber is given a copy, which is separate from the work, that he may frame it, and adorn his walls with a scene so elevating in its tendency, as an example of lofty Patriotism, and heroic Self-sacrifice.

H. H. CINCINNATI, Ohio, No. 111 Main Street,

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