The American States during and after the Revolution, 1775-1789

By Allan Nevins | Go to book overview

PREFACE

The design of this volume is to present a conspectus of State history, as distinguished from national history, from the organization of the first independent State agencies at the beginning of the Revolution until 1789. In general, American historiography has treated each Colony separately till 1775, but with the year of independence has suddenly ceased to regard the thirteen commonwealths as separate entities, and followed only their collective fortunes. No real attempt has been made to synthesize State history for this period, or any other. For that matter, the work of the local historian, refusing to look beyond his State boundaries, has been distressingly uneven. Many states have no good historical record. The seminary studies initiated at Johns Hopkins by Herbert Baxter Adams, those of the Columbia department of history, the better volumes of the American Commonwealth Series, and such works as General Edward McCrady's history of South Carolina till 1783, and Mr. H. J. Eckenrode's history of Virginia during the Revolution, represent genuinely scientific research and skilled interpretation. But they leave wide fields of State history quite unexplored.

While to a large extent this volume is a correlation of monographic material and the best State histories, it is also built upon extensive research in the sources, and for a number of States supplies a historical record not to be had in any other form. It is hoped that it will both furnish a background to the study of national history, and contribute to a stronger interest in State history merely as such. The whole State field has been unduly neglected. Important provinces of legislation belong largely to the States--education, transportation, suffrage, control and protection of labor, crime and punishment, the regulation of business, public amusements and morals. The development of constitutional ideas within the States is as interesting as changes in the Federal Constitution and its interpretation. In politics, State and Federal influences constantly interact. Who can understand Calhoun's career without a knowledge of

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