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“ Nature and Laws would be in an ill case, if Slavery should find what to say for itself, and Liberty
preserve them in a permanent form, must plead his apology. For a number of years, it has been his wish, to bring these works before the public. He has only waited for the time, when they could be produced without exciting a suspicion of personal or partisan objects. That time, in his opinion, has now arrived.
It is, however, perhaps too much to expect, even now, a candid hearing from all parties. “Nothing,” says Mr. Seward, in one of his letters, “that I can do or say, or that can be said or done by my friends, is suffered to pass without exciting alarms lest it may have an ambitious design that I almost despise."
To the friends of republican principles and of the claims of justice and freedom everywhere, the Editor believes these volumes will be welcome, and to such they are respectfully dedicated. To the friends of Mr. Seward, also, they will be acceptable, as a complete refutation of the various misrepresentations of his acts and opinions, current in the community, supplying a want long felt and frequently expressed. To many of these friends, the Editor is already indebted for assistance and encouragement in his undertaking, for which, he avails himself of this place to express his acknowledgments.
The difficulty of preparing a select edition of Mr. Seward's works was felt at the outset, and after a full view of the matter, it was determined to embrace every thing of which there had been any public record. Ample limits, as it was thought at the time, were accordingly assigned for the work. But the extraordinary amount of interesting and valuable matter that presented itself for publication required a modification of the original plan. It is therefore proper to say, that this collection does not include all of Mr. Seward's productions. Those, however, which have been omitted, were comparatively of local and temporary importance, and, in many cases, were too imperfectly reported for publication. At the same time, nothing has been left out of the edition on account of any peculiar sentiment or opinion it expressed; but, on the contrary, every thing which has been particularly obnoxious to controversy has been carefully included.
The MEMOIR which follows, though written with heartfelt admiration of the subject, has constantly aimed to avoid indiscriminate eulogy, and to present a simple but complete record of Mr. Seward's life.
The SPEECHES IN THE SENATE OF NEW YORK contained in this volume, while they will serve to show the first exercise of that power of debate, which now in its full development excites an interest throughout the country, will give the reader a fresh view of many important political questions of State and National policy.
THE SPEECHES AND DEBATES IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES form a complete record of Mr. Seward's efforts in that body down to the close of the XXXIId Congress. Several speeches delivered after the first volume of these works had gone to press, will be found in the third volume.
The FORENSIC ARGUMENTS in this volume include Mr. Seward's pleas in the case of J. Fenimore Cooper vs. Greeley & McElrath ; in defence of William Freeman; in the case of Jones vs. Van Zandt, under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1793; in the case of Many vs. Treadwell, a Patent case; and in defence of Abel F. Fitch and others, in the celebrated Railroad Trial at Detroit. Several others, possessing almost equal interest, had been selected for a place in the works, but the limits already prescribed made it necessary to omit them. Among these may be named an argument in the case of Wilson vs. Rousseau, * involving the merits of the Woodworth Patent, and an Opinion delivered by Mr. Seward while a member of the Court of Errors, in the case of Parks vs. Jackson.t
* Blatchford's Circuit Court Reports, Vol. I. page 8. + Wendell's Reports, Vol. IX. page 456.
Three ENGRAVINGS accompany these volumes—a Portrait of Mr. Seward his Birth-Place—and his Residence at Auburn.
The portrait is a faithful copy of a daguerreotype taken for
The view of Mr. Seward's early home, in the second volume, was engraved from a sketch, recently made, of the old house which is still standing in the village of Florida, in Orange County.
The view of his present residence at Auburn, in the third volume, is from a daguerreotype taken in mid-winter. A brief description of the mansion and grounds will be found in the Preface to that volume.
WILLIAMSBURGH, L. I, March 1, 1853.