In presenting Randolph's words, I have favored sense over exactness of transcription, especially with printed speeches. Randolph did not care much for his printed words. He spoke, as he said, from impulse and feeling ; his were "verba ardentia." He usually had nothing to do with printed versions of his words. He was not a writer whose texts have any claim to being sacred. We want his thoughts and his intentions. I know he would haunt me if I littered this book with "[sic]," so I have occasionally corrected mistakes of spelling and errors of that sort, not to alter the sense but to give his writings and the transcriptions of his talking the force and clarity they customarily had; he was persnickety about such things, and I have tried to render him in as dear an English as he seems to have been capable of, not encumbered with the encrusted errors of his times or the years since. Since I don't subscribe to most of his opinions, and since I did not write an advocating book, I thought I owed Randolph at least that.
The collection of Randolph materials at the Alderman Library in the University of Virginia has originals or copies of all of Randolph's surviving papers. I went through that collection. Where possible, I have cited a printed version—preferably the most easily available—of the letters and other materials to which reference is made. That is one reason for the frequent presence in these notes of certain works, notably the studies of Randolph by Hugh A. Garland, Henry Adams, William Cabell Bruce, and Russell Kirk. There is more to it than that, however. More than most scholars, I suspect, I have benefited from the work of past writers—going, a, s it were, largely over their forest with my own ground axe. In more than one instance, I have reproduced their arrangement of quotations and the like, preferring my obligation to be known. I have of course noted such debts throughout, but I wanted here to mention in a general way how good I think the biographical work on Randolph is, how many good scholars, not just the above four, have written about him, and how much this interpretive book relies on their labors.