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Felix qui potuit rerum conoscere causas. ---VIRGIL, GEORGICA, Lib. II., 490.



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ENTERED according to the Act' of Congress, in the year.ope thousand eight hundred and forty-three;

BY HENRY SHERMAN, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern

District of New York..




In preparing this work for the press, the Author's design has been to place within the reach of our common Schools, and the Libraries for the young throughout the country, a plain and simple history of the origin of our government and institutions, with the causes which have given to them their characteristic qualities. It is impossible for the mind of man to fix a limit to the advancement of this great and growing nation, in all the arts which contribute to the improvement of society, the sciences which expand and liberal the mind, or in the further development of those great principles of civil and religious liberty which are destined, in their ultimate maturity, to harmonize the world. It is essential that the young, who are hereafter to be entrusted with this proud heritage, should be prepared for the important and interesting duties which it may devolve upon them. If they would be useful to their country and to their race if they would preserve, and conduct to maturity and perfection, a system of government so wisely planned, and institutions so well founded, they must become acquainted with their history from their earliest origin. They should be familiar with the causes which led to the first settlement of the several colonies planted by our forefathers in Americawhich transformed those colonies into independent stateswhich united those states into a federal community—which again dissolved this confederacy, and led to their more perfect, permanent, and happy union under the present constitution.

In looking into our libraries the Author found no work calculated particularly to aid them in making these acquisitions, while those whence this information was to be derived were either too ponderous, or too voluminous, or too expensive, to fall into the hands of the mass of juvenile readers. This volume has been prepared, during the intervals of leisure from professional avocations, with a view to supply this deficiency. Yet the object aimed at in its compilation, has not been merely to furnish a library book for general reading; but also a class-book for the use of schools. The letters, addresses, and other documents of the several Colonies, and of the Congress, during the progress of our revolution, as also the speeches delivered in the British Parliament, which have been incorporated into the work, are excellent specimens of English composition, well adapted to improve the pupil in the exercises of reading, recitation, or declamation, while at the same time they contain the most valuable information as to the origin and progress of our liberties and institutions. Thus, it is hoped, while the work of elementary education is going forward, the young mind will be made familiar with the most interesting portion of our history, become acquainted with those fundamental principles of civil and religious faith and freedom which are the basis of our union and prosperity as a people, as well as our happiness as individuals; and imbibe a deeper reverence for, and a lasting attachment to, the government and institutions which have been reared


them. The following works have been consulted by the Author, and are recommended to those who wish to acquire more extended information on this subject, viz. : Russell's Modern Europe. Bigland's View of the World. Robertson's History of America. Irving's Columbus. Bissett's England. Winterbotham's America. Butler's History of the United States. Pitkin's History of the United States. Hutchinson's Hist. of Massachusetts. Marshall's Colonies. Barke's Works. Journals of Congress. The Federalist. Story on the Constitution. Kent's Commentaries, etc.


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