A Documentary History of the United States

A Documentary History of the United States

A Documentary History of the United States

A Documentary History of the United States


Available for the first time in a single edition are thedocuments, speeches, and letters that have forged American history, accompaniedby interpretations of their significance by a noted historian and scholar.Included in this invaluable volume are: The complete text of the Declaration ofIndependence; The complete Constitution of the United States; The MonroeDoctrine; The Emancipation Proclamation, and many more.


In this brief history of the United States the major sources of American political, economic and intellectual life are presented essentially as they were written. For the sake of clarity liberties have been taken with punctuation and spelling, and ellipses indicate that some passages have been omitted. But what in the broadest sense are the tangible and unquestioned raw materials of American history are objectively presented here for examination and evaluation, and each reader becomes truly his own historian. On the other hand, the connective commentary which places the various documents in their historical context is necessarily subjective, for the past as "fact" is to be clearly distinguished from recorded history, which is largely "opinion." Thus the commentary, as the late Charles A. Beard characterized written history generally, is pre-eminently an "act of faith" which embodies not the past itself, but simply the author's own changeable understanding of the sequence, motivation, and conceptual meaning of certain events in the American past.

In innumerable ways A Documentary History of the United States is a joint venture, and I wish to express deepest appreciation to my many friends, students, colleagues, and teachers who aided so generously in its preparation. Special thanks to Edward McN. Burns and to Richard V. Chase, for their thoughtfulness, kindness, and thoroughness in reading and checking the original manuscript. Thanks also to Lawrence H. Chamberlain, Arthur W. Macmahon, Harry J. Carman, Allan Nevins, Eduard C. Lindeman, and Martin Levin for their criticisms and constant encouragement; to Marc Jaffe, my editor, for wisdom and patience beyond the call of duty; and always to Elaine, my wife, for everything.


New York City

August 5, 1952 . . .

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