Слике страница

and people could not do so. The diplomatic history of the country alone has, to any noteworthy extent, an unrevealed page. In this fact lies one of the sources of pride to the true citizen of the Republic. Neither the man, nor the Administration, nor the Government has a secret side undiscoverable by Yankee ingenuity, or beyond the chances of public inspection. To the industrious and persevering explorer, the channels of information are all open and common, in a general sense, however dim and unsatisfactory they may often be. But with all this, how many men could be found in an age who would be willing and able (or have the temerity, as I was told in New Hampshire) to give a quarter of a life-time to seeking and traveling these channels, difficult and, at times, unpleasant enough?

In the General Preface and in the body of the work credit has been duly given to helpers by the way. And, on the whole, it is confidently felt that all men, all parties, all principles, all practices, all systems of policy, all events and subjects, have been handled with the single purpose of portraying the • truths of history, without a shadow of inclination in favor of the gainer or the loser. And I shall be gratified, if this year, next year, the next decade, or within my own days, my countrymen, from border to border, shall be found estimating the work in some degree as I do myself; at all events, with their characteristic generosity and fairness.

In glancing over the characters mentioned in this work, it is natural enough to place the name of Washington at the head of them all. And yet, looking back through the long vista in which I have traveled and “labored” for years, and which is surrounded and filled with interesting people, wonderful events, and wonderful national progress, I feel little inclination to say that the choice of the people has not at any period been wise in the selection of their Chief Executives.

As a whole, the history of the United States, in these Administrations, will stand the severest criticism which can be applied to human governments. Each Administration has, in a manner, brought forward the work of the preceding period. However little has, in some cases, been done, not one has stood still ; and a change of policy under party leaderships has had little influence on the great result.

The task has broadened my own views; and while seeking to deal fairly with men, principles, and events, partisan preferences have been weakened in myself, respect for great party conflicts destroyed, and the strong abiding sentiment left, that while God rules the affairs of the universe, the Republic will move on in its grand destiny.

« ПретходнаНастави »