History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 4

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I.
A RETROSPECT. EARLY MOVEMENTS TOWARD UNION.
1643–1781.

THE order of time brings us to the most cheering act in the political history of mankind, when thirteen republics, of which at least three reached from the sea to the Mississippi, formed themselves into one federal commonwealth. There was no revolt against the past, but a persistent and healthy progress. The sublime achievement was the work of a people led by statesmen of earnestness, perseverance, and public spirit, instructed by the widest experience in the forms of representative government, and warmed by that mutual love which proceeds from ancient connection, harmonious effort in perils, and common aspirations.

Scarcely one who wished me good speed when I first essayed to trace the history of America remains to greet me with a welcome I near the goal. Deeply grateful as I am for the friends who rise up to gladden my old age, their encouragement must renew my grief for those who have gone before me.

While so much is changed in the living objects of personal respect and affection, infinitely greater are the transformations in the condition of the world. Power has come to dwell with every people, from the Arctic sea to the Mediterranean, from Portugal to the borders of Russia. From end to end of the United States, the slave has become a freeman; and the various forms of bondage have disappeared from European Christendom. Abounding harvests of scientific discovery have been garnered by numberless inquisitive minds, and the wild

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