THE EDITOR has attempted in this volume to give readers a full and accurate text of Abraham Lincoln's most important works. Three considerations have guided his choice of selections: literary significance, historical importance, and human interest. In few instances, it is believed, will the reader fail to find any authentic piece which merits inclusion for all of these considerations, although numerous items of an interest chiefly historical, and perhaps a few of some slight literary significance, may be missed by the Lincoln specialist. Since the editor believes that the reader can best do his own abridging and extracting, all selections are complete.
The text of more than three-fourths of the selections has been edited from the original manuscripts or from photostatic copies of the originals. The text of other selections, for which no manuscript is available, has been edited from the original printed version or from a later printing which Lincoln corrected or authorized. In a few instances two or more printed texts, each having its own particular significance, have been collated. The editor regrets that he has been unable to obtain access to the original or to a photostatic copy of thirteen of the selections. Since each of the thirteen is an item of considerable interest and importance to a volume which attempts to present the best of Lincoln's writings, he has reproduced them as edited by Nicolay and Hay in the Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln. The source of text for each selection will be found listed under "Sources."
The volume had its inception several years ago when the editor had occasion to consult a number of manuscripts and found to his amazement that Nicolay and Hay had in some instances so