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1.-MOTIVES FOR WRITING THIS WORK.
JUSTICE to the men with whom I acted, and to the cause in which we were engaged, is my chief motive for engaging in this work. A secondary motive is the hope of being useful to our republican form of government in after ages by showing its working through a long and eventful period ; working well all the time, and thereby justifying the hope of its permanent good operation in all time to come, if maintained in its purity and integrity. Justice to the wise and patriotic men who established our independence, and founded this government, is another motive with me. I do not know how young I was when I first read in the speeches of Lord Chatham, the encomium which he pronounced in the House of Lords on these founders of our republic ; but it sunk deep into my memory at the time, and, what is more, went deep into the heart : and has remained there ever since. “When your lordships look at the papers transmitted us from America ; when you consider their decency, firmness, and wisdom, you cannot but respect their cause, and wish to make it your own. For myself, I must declare and avow, that in all my reading and observation—and it has been my favorite study-I have read Thucydides, and have studied and admired the master states of the world—that for solidity of reasoning, force of sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion, under such a complication of difficult circumstances, no nation, or body of men, can stand in preference to the general
congress at Philadelphia.” This encomium, so just and so grand, so grave and so measured, and the more impressive on account of its gravity and measure, was pronounced in the early part of our revolutionary struggle—in its first stageand before a long succession of crowning events had come to convert it into history, and to show of how much more those men were capable than they had then done. If the great William Pitt-greater under that name than under the title he so long refused—had lived in this day, had lived to see these men making themselves exceptions to the maxim of the world, and finishing the revolution which they began-seen them found a new government and administer it in their day and generation, and until “gathered to their fathers," and all with the same wisdom, justice, moderation, and decorum, with which they began it: if he had lived to have seen all this, even his lofty genius might have recoiled from the task of doing them justice ;—and, I may add, from the task of doing justice to the PEOPLE who sustained such men. Eulogy is not my task; but gratitude and veneration is the debt of my birth and inheritance, and of the benefits which I have enjoyed from their labors ; and I have proposed to acknowledge this debt-to discharge it is impossible—in laboring to preserve their work during my day, and in now commending it, by the fruits it has borne, to the love and care of posterity. Another motive, hardly entitled to the dignity of being named, has its weight with me, and belongs to the rights of “self-defence.” I have made a great many speeches, and have an apprehension that they may be published after I am gone-published in the gross, without due discrimination—and so preserve, or perpetuate, things said, both of men and of measures, which I no longer approve, and would wish to leave to oblivion. By making selections of suitable parts of these speeches, and weaving them into this work, I may hope to prevent a general publication or to render it harmless if made. But I do not condemn all that I leave out.
2.-QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE WORK.
Of these I have one, admitted by all to be considerable, but by no means enough of itself. Mr. Macaulay says of Fox and Mackintosh, speaking of their histories of the last of the Stuarts, and of the Revolution of 1688: “They had one eminent qualification for writing history; they had spoken history, acted history, lived history. The turns of political fortune, the ebb and flow of popular feeling, the hidden mechanism by which parties are moyed, all these things were the subject of their constant thought, and of their most familiar conversation. Gibbon has remarked, that his history is much the better for his
having been an officer in the militia, and a member of the House of Commons. The remark is most just. We have not the smallest doubt that his campaigns, though he never saw an enemy, and his parliamentary attendance, though he never made a speech, were of far more use to him than years of retirement and study would have been. If the time that he spent on parade and at mess in Hampshire, or on the Treasury bench and at Brooke's, during the storms which overthrew Lord North and Lord Shelburne, had been passed in the Bodleian Library, he might have avoided some inaccuracies ; he might have enriched his notes with a greater number of references ; but he never could have produced so lively a picture of the court, the camp, and the senate-house. In this respect Mr. Fox and Sir James Mackintosh had great advantages over almost every English historian since the time of Burnet.”—I can say I have these advantages. I was in the Senate the whole time of which I write an active business member, attending and attentive—in the confidence of half the administrations, and a close observer of the others—had an inside view of transactions of which the public only saw the outside, and of many of which the two sides were very different-saw the secret springs and hidden machinery by which men and parties were to be moved, and measures promoted or thwarted—saw patriotism and ambition at their respective labors, and was generally able to discriminate between them. So far, I have one qualification ; but Mr. Macaulay says that Lord Lyttleton had the same, and made but a poor history, because unable to use his material. So it may be with me; but in addition to my senatorial means of knowledge, I have access to the unpublished papers of General Jackson, and find among them some that he intended for publication, and which will be used according to his intention.
3.—THE SCOPE OF THE WORK.
I do not propose a regular history, but a political work, to show the practical working of the government, and speak of men and events in subordination to that design, and to illustrate the character of Institutions which are new and complex—the first of their kind, and upon the fate of which the eyes of the world are now fixed. Our duplicate form of government, State and Federal, is a novelty which has no precedent, and has found no practical imitation, and is still believed by some to be an experiment. I believe in its excellence, and wish to contribute to its permanence, and believe I can do so by giving a faithful account of what I have seen of its working, and of the trials to which I have seen it subjected.
4.-THE SPIRIT OF THE WORK.
I write in the spirit of Truth, but not of unnecessary or irrelevant truth, only giving that which is essential to the object of the work, and the omission of which would be an imperfection, and a subtraction from what ought to be known. I have no animosities, and shall find far greater pleasure in bringing out the good and the great acts of those with whom I have differed, than in noting the points on which I deemed them wrong. My ambition is to make a veracious work, reliable in its statements, candid in its conclusions, just in its views, and which cotemporaries and posterity may read without fear of being misled.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME I.
Tariff-Inception of the Doctrine of Nul-
I Personal Aspect of the Government
V. Oregon Territory
XL General Removal of Indians ,
to the Election of President and Vice-Pre-
in the Electoral Colleges
XXIL Case of Mr. Lanman-Temporary Senatorial
Appointment from Connecticut