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religion have, each in its place, called forth worthy utterances in American oratory. These, certainly, have an important place in the study of our national life. But it has been deemed advisable to limit the scope of these volumes to that field of history which Mr. Freeman has called “past politics,”—to the process by which Americans, past and present, have built and conducted their state. The study of the state, its rise, its organization, and its development, is, after all, the richest field for the student and reader of history. “History," says Professor Seeley, “may be defined as the biography of states. To study history thus is to study politics at the same time. If history is not merely eloquent writing, but a serious scientific investigation, and if we are to consider that it is not mere anthropology or sociology, but a science of states, then the study of history is absolutely the study of politics. It is into this great field of history that these volumes would direct the reader.
No American scholar had done more, before
his untimely death, than the original editor of these orations, to cultivate among Americans an intelligent study of our politics and political history. These volumes, which he designed, are a worthy memorial of his appreciation of the value to American students of the best specimens of our political oratory.
J. A. W.
All authorities are agreed that the political history of the United States, beyond much that is feeble or poor in quality, has given to the English language very many of its most finished and most persuasive specimens of oratory. It is natural that oratory should be a power in a republic; but, in the American republic, the force of institutions has been reinforced by that of a language which is peculiarly adapted to the display of eloquence. Collections of American orations have been numerous and useful, but the copiousness of the material has always proved a source of embarrassment. Where the supply is so abundant, it is exceedingly difficult to make selections on any exact system, and yet impossible to include all that has a fair claim to the distinctive stamp of oratory. The results have been that our collections of public speeches have proved either unsatisfactory or unreasonably voluminous.
The design which has controlled the present collection has been to make such selections from the great orations of American history as shall show most clearly the spirit and motives which have actuated its leaders, and to connect them by a thread of commentary which shall convey the practical results of the conflicts of opinion revealed in the selections. In the execution of such a work much must be allowed for personal limitations; that which would seem representative to one would not seem at all representative to others. It will not be difficult to mark omissions, some of which may seem to mar the completeness of the work very materially; the only claim advanced is that the work has been done with a consistent desire to show the best side of all lines of thought which have seriously modified the course of American history. Some great names will be missed from the list of orators, and some great addresses from the list of orations; the apology for their omission is