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The second volume of the EPOCHS OF AMERICAN HISTORY aims to follow out the principles laid down for “ THE COLONIES,” the study of causes rather than of events, the development of the American nation out of scattered and in harmonious colonies. The throwing off of English control, the growth out of narrow political conditions, the struggle against foreign domination, and the extension of popular government, are all parts of the uninterrupted process of the Formation of the Union.
So mighty a development can be treated only in its elements in this small volume. Much matter is thrown into graphic form in the maps; the Suggestions for Readers and Teachers, and the bibliographies at the heads of the chapters are meant to lead to more detailed accounts, both of events and of social and economic conditions. Although the book includes three serious wars, there is no military history in it. To the soldier, the movement of troops is a professional question of great significance ; the layman needs to know, rather, what were the means,
the character, and the spirit of the two combatants in each case, and why one succeeded where the other was defeated.
The final struggle for the Ohio and St. Lawrence valleys has been considered more in its political effects on the colonies than in its effect on France. The author has attempted to trace the causes of the separation from Great Britain, and to describe the slow and half-unwilling union of the colonies in that contest. An account of the weakness and defects of national and state governments during the Confederation leads up to the Constitutional Convention, and to the hardly less important organizing acts of 1789 to 1793. Then come the development and rivalry of political parties, and their effect on the United States during the Napoleonic wars. From the political dangers caused by the War of 1812, the story goes on through the economic transformation of the years from 1815 to 1824.
The volume closes with a sketch of the gradual democratizing of the government, which culminated in the election of Jackson in 1828. If I have made clearer why there is a United States of America, I am satisfied.
To my colleague, Prof. Edward Channing, I am indebted for many suggestions on the first four chapters.
ALBERT BUSHNELL HART.
CAMBRIDGE, July 1, 1892.