Sources and Documents Illustrating the American Revolution, 1764-1788, and the Formation of the Federal Constitution

By S. E. Morison | Go to book overview

PREFACE

COMPILING a book of sources and documents is generally a thankless task, satisfying no one, least of all the editor. He would fain extend his volume to a set. His students, happily ignorant of the pains of rejection, wish he had made the volume half its size; and colleagues invariably find fault with his choice. However, it was time the American Revolution had a source-book of its own; and the present editor admits that the pleasure of doing it has more than repaid him for the trouble. For his students, he has no apology for including large excerpts from debates, rather than constitutional documents in the stricter sense. Toward his colleagues, who will marvel that he dared to tread in the footsteps of Stubbs, Gardiner, and Prothero, he will retort as did Artemus Ward when he fell into poetry: 'Sich was not my intentions, tho ef occashun requires I can jerk a poim ekal to any of them Atlantic Munthly fellers.'

The plan of this book is to include (a) all the absolutely essential documents, such as the Declaration of Independence and the Federal Constitution, (b) the more important acts, resolves, state constitutions, royal instructions, &c., not easily obtainable elsewhere, (c) samples of the more human varieties of source material, such as debates, letters, pamphlets, Indian relations, and frontier petitions, which illustrate and often influenced public opinion. A large part of the book is devoted to the six years after the war, when the Revolution was logically completed by the Federal Constitution. Military and diplomatic subjects have been excluded, because, it is the Revolution rather than the War of Independence that we are trying to elucidate; and certain economic aspects of the Revolution have been excluded because they are adequately dealt with in Professor Callender Selections from the Economic History of the United States.1

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1
Ginn and Co., 1909. Other sources that should be read in connexion with this book, are the Parliamentary debates on American affairs in Hansard, especially Burke's speeches; W. Knox, Controversy Reviewed ( 1769); T. Paine, Common Sense ( 1776) ; the Constitution of Massachusetts ( 1780); and the Federalist ( 1788).

-v-

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