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that they have not seemed to be so closely related to the current of American history or so operative upon its course as to demand their insertion. Any errors under this head have occurred in spite of careful consideration and anxious desire to be scrupulously impartial.
Very many of the orations selected have been condensed by the omission of portions which had no relevancy to the purpose in hand, or were of only a temporary interest and importance. Such omissions have been indicated, so that the reader need not be misled, while the effort has been made to so manage the omissions as to maintain a complete logical connection among the parts which have been put to use. A tempting method of preserving such a connection is, of course, the insertion of words or sentences which the speaker might have used, though he did not; but such a method seemed too dangerous and possibly too misleading, and it has been carefully avoided. None of the selections contain a word of foreign matter, with the exception of one of Randolph's speeches and Mr. Beecher's Liverpool speech, where the matter inserted has been taken from the only available report, and is not likely to mislead the reader. For very much the same reason, footnotes have been avoided, and the speakers have been left to speak for themselves.
Such a process of omission will reveal to any one who undertakes it an underlying characteristic of our later, as distinguished from our earlier, oratory. The careful elaboration of the parts, the restraint of each topic treated to its appropriate part, and the systematic development of the parts into a symmetrical whole, are as markedly present in the latter as they are absent in the former. The process of selection has therefore been progressively more difficult as the subject-matter has approached contemporary times. In our earlier orations, the distinction and separate treatment of the parts is so carefully observed that it has been comparatively an easy task to seize and appropriate the parts especially desirable. In our later orations, with some exceptions, there is an evidently decreasing attention to system. The whole is often a collection of disjecta membra of arguments, so interdependent that omissions of any sort are exceedingly dangerous to the meaning of the speaker. To do justice to his meaning, and give the whole oration, would be an impossible strain on the space available ; to omit any portion is usually to lose one or more buttresses of some essential feature in his argument. The distinction is submitted without any desire to explain it on theory, but only as a suggestion of a practical difficulty in a satisfactory execution of the work.
The general division of the work has been into (1) Colonialism, to 1789; (2) Constitutional Government, to 1801; (3) the Rise of Democracy, to 1815; (4) the Rise of Nationality, to 1840; (5) the Slavery struggle, to 1860; (6) Secession and Reconstruction, to 1876; (7) Free Trade and Protection. In such a division, it has been found necessary to include, in a few cases, orations which have not been strictly within the time limits of the topic, but have had a close logical connection with it. It is hoped, however, that all such cases will show their own necessity too clearly for any need of further explanation or excuse.