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Seventeenth President of the United States.
Reconstruction of the Union,
Dawn of the New Era of National Progress.
JOHN ROBERT IRELAN, M. D.
CHICAGO: FAIRBANKS AND PALMER PUBLISHING Co.
HETHER this should be the final volume of
this work or not, may be a matter of question. But in the discussion of this point the author is not disposed to take a prominent part. The period treated of, and in which is embraced most things now of interest in this Government and people, terminates with the subject of this volume; that is, the work of reconstruction after the War of the Rebellion. Another similar work, beginning where this ends, must be the history of a new era in the life of the Republic; of new men, new measures, new events, new spirit, of a regenerated nationality.
My task here ends. And the fact that the end has been reached does not vindicate the infallibility of those prophets who broadly intimated that the plan and undertaking were too vast for one man, and that the work should have been weakened, and its spirit, tone, and unity of purpose broken by the cooperation of several hands, of “many men of many minds."
The General Preface in the initial volume fully sets forth the scope and character of the work, none
of the promises of which, it is believed, have been departed from in the least. And although a few trifling verbal and matter-of-fact slips have been noted, it is earnestly hoped the work may commend and maintain itself for its easy, popular style, its comprehensiveness, its independence, its accuracy, its supply of an unbroken history which was at best fragmentary and full of gaps, and, not least, for the moral and patriotic tone in which it is cast.
The biographic side of the work has given a license which I have not been slow to use in lending latitude of expression, illustration, and criticism that could hardly be admissible in a field of pure history.
It may be held by some that the quoted matter, the substantial documentary part, is a mistake, and at least disfigures the whole work; but a more careful consideration of the case must exhibit this feature as invaluable, and show that the real source of loss, if any, in this direction, lies in the necessity which often compelled the omission of documentary evidence.
It may also be said that the work is not a revelation, that it follows too much in what might be termed the common channels of information, and reveals no great secrets in the lives of the men and the Government. The General Preface to the work relieves the author of any pretensions on this point, if a knowledge of the character of the Government