The worth of contemporary documents for the writing of history needs no discussion. The zeal of Americans in searching out and accumulating such material has steadily increased since the opening of the nineteenth century. By the aid of Historical Societies and of Legislatures, thousands of valuable documents have been rescued from destruction or oblivion.
The State of New York has ever done and is yet doing its share in securing and preserving original documents for the elucidation of her history. Historical inquiry is always an incentive to progress, in whatever department it is pursued. It was under such a spirit that the New York Historical Society was founded in 1804, "The principal design of which should be to collect and preserve whatever may relate to the natural, civil or ecclesiastical history of the United States, in general, and of this State," New York, "in particular."
This Society had not pursued its objects very long, before it was discovered that the attainment of such objects, so various, comprehensive and important, requiring so much knowledge, research, industry and expense, was beyond the means or ability of individual enterprise. Hence the Legislature granted a char-____________________