Foundations of Colonial America: A Documentary History - Vol. 3

Foundations of Colonial America: A Documentary History - Vol. 3

Foundations of Colonial America: A Documentary History - Vol. 3

Foundations of Colonial America: A Documentary History - Vol. 3

Excerpt

This is the third and last of a three-volume set of colonial American public documents. Volume I contains the records of the New England colonies, Volume II those of the Middle Atlantic group, and this one completes the series with the inclusion of Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. I have taken the liberty, as stated in the preface to Volume II, of including in each volume certain information and data which I feel is common to all three. Thus, each one has a table of regnal years, a glossary, and some items in their bibliographies which are identical. In addition, both in the preface and the introduction to sections within each volume I have repeated information which I consider to be essential regardless of the geographical area being discussed. For example, the method of obtaining a charter, legal forms of acquiring and devising property, and background information on various clauses in charters and other legal documents have been incorporated into each volume in the appropriate places.

Accusations of intellectual laziness, padding, and dull repetition might be made as a result. They are correct—yet they are not, especially in view of the objectives of this trilogy. Each volume can be used separately without having to refer to one of the other volumes for the data that is basic and common to all three; if one wishes to use only one volume, he need not have either of the others at hand. And in some cases, as with a borrowed volume or one misplaced or stolen from the shelf (all too frequent in many libraries), I have found such an aid a prerequisite to averting fits of madness and murderous thoughts when finding such information is in a book missing from a multivolume set. Nevertheless, even though each volume can stand alone, all three have a common format and essentially the same types of documents in order to retain a comparative quality both intra- and inter-regionally.

All of the documents in this and the other volumes have been taken from the public records of each colony. This is because much of the evidence of the transmission of old world customs to the new world can be found in the form of laws, legislation, resolutions, petitions, offical letters, deeds, wills, and a variety of other official acts of provincial and local governing bodies. For almost two hundred years English colonials proliferated along the eastern seaboard of the North American continent, establishing and perpetuating English customs and habits. Both the evidence and the success of their efforts can be seen today in the written record they left behind, reflected in this country's legal and political systems as well as in many of our current customs and traditions. Therein also can be found illustrations of the alterations and mutations of European habits and traditions in response to the demands of the new world.

Obviously official records do not contain the data necessary to reconstruct a complete picture of colonial society, yet they are recognized as essential to an understanding of it. In fact, they comprise a large part of the material for social and economic history since laws and their appurtenant documents are expressions of social . . .

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