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N offering to the American people this story of the beginnings and
growth of a Nation that, by the direct and broad highway of equal rights for all, has attained the highest rank among the peoples of the earth, no apology need be made for its appearance, while extended explanation of its purpose is unnecessary.
Shall argument be made to show that a knowledge of this story is, by obligation of citizenship, the duty of all?
No citizen, old or young, native or foreign born, can be fully prepared to do his duty to the country whose protection he enjoys, and the future of which to some extent lies in his hands, unless he understands the difficulties through which it has gone to reach its present greatness, and the many conflicts by which the blessings of to-day have been won and made secure. No matter what lines of knowledge or culture may be closed to the voter, or to him who is to become one by added years of naturalization, he cannot safely remain in ignorance as to the history of America, or the past of that government through which his will and purpose are made known. Each question of public policy that develops itself in the forward advance of events, depends for its solution upon something that has gone before, and no citizen can do the duty of the future without a knowledge of the past.
The history of our Nation has been related in these pages as never before—with completeness, exactness of statement, detail of description, liberality of judgment and breadth of purpose that no previous attempt has reached. Beginning with the days that connect our
earliest American history with tradition and romance, all the lines of development and growth have been followed fully and carefully to the present. No salient point can be discovered that has not been touched upon; no question or measure of importance that has not been described with reference to its causes or effects; no era that has not been fully considered; and no statesman or warrior of note who has been forgotten or omitted. It would be a task not necessary in this connection to enumerate even a tithe of the great events that find record herein, and that make up the most wonderful story of National development to be found in the annals of the world.
Among the great events chronicled herein, the following may be specially mentioned: That grand record of American bravery that, commencing with the French and Indian wars, carries us on to Lexington and New Orleans, by Buena Vista and Palo Alto to Gettysburgh and Chickamauga; the struggle made by slavery to hold its own, from the Missouri Compromise to the adoption of the Fifteenth amendment; all the questions that grew out of the Revolution and the War of 1812; the United States bank controversy; the growth of our protective tariff; nullification and states rights; the war for the Union, and all the questions preceding and following it; the creation of the National bank system; reconstruction and specie resumption. In the history of each National administration, all the questions that were in the fore-front of the day find full relation. In the histories of our politics, finances, industries, commerce, judiciary-with many special papers by eminent writers-may be found a mass of well-arranged information that makes of this work what it purports to be-a complete history of our Nation from the settlement of America to the present day. In addition, the biographies of the great men of the past and present are fully given-our chief magistrates, statesmen, judges, soldiers, financiers and philanthropists.
The work done herein is that of men who have made a deep study of American history, and have candidly set down the truth as it could be ascertained. No sectional or political bias has stood in the way of that truth. No coloring has been used to give this one fame, or