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- European Background Of American History - 2/42 -
[Proofer's Note: Maps and illustrations omitted.]
MEDIAEVAL TRADE-ROUTES ACROSS ASIA (in colors)
CONQUESTS OF THE OTTOMAN TURKS (1300-1525) (in colors)
THE LAURENTIAN PORTOLANO OF 1351
PORTUGUESE DISCOVERIES ON THE COAST OF AFRICA (1340-1498)
TERRITORIAL GROWTH OF SPAIN (1230-1580)
SPHERES OF INFLUENCE ASSIGNED TO ENGLISH COMMERCIAL COMPANIES ABOUT 1625 (in colors)
EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION TO THE SERIES
That a new history of the United States is needed, extending from the discovery down to the present time, hardly needs statement. No such comprehensive work by a competent writer is now in existence. Individual writers have treated only limited chronological fields. Meantime there, is a rapid increase of published sources and of serviceable monographs based on material hitherto unused. On the one side there is a necessity for an intelligent summarizing of the present knowledge of American history by trained specialists; on the other hand there is need of a complete work, written in untechnical style, which shall serve for the instruction and the entertainment of the general reader.
To accomplish this double task within a time short enough to serve its purpose, there is but one possible method, the co-operative. Such a division of labor has been employed in several German, French, and English enterprises; but this is the first attempt, to carry out that system on a large scale for the whole of the United States.
The title of the work succinctly suggests the character of the series, The American Nation. A History. From Original Materials by Associated Scholars. The subject is the "American Nation," the people combined into a mighty political organization, with a national tradition, a national purpose, and a national character. But the nation, as it is, is built upon its own past and can be understood only in the light of its origin and development. Hence this series is a "history," and a consecutive history, in which events shall be shown not only in their succession, but in their relation to one another; in which cause shall be connected with effect and the effect become a second cause. It is a history "from original materials," because such materials, combined with the recollections of living men, are the only source of our knowledge of the past. No accurate history can be written which does not spring from the sources, and it is safer to use them at first hand than to accept them as quoted or expounded by other people. It is a history written by "scholars"; the editor expects that each writer shall have had previous experience in investigation and in statement. It is a history by "associated scholars," because each can thus bring to bear his special knowledge and his special aptitude.
Previous efforts to fuse together into one work short chapters by many hands have not been altogether happy; the results have usually been encyclopaedic, uneven, and abounding in gaps. Hence in this series the whole work is divided into twenty-six volumes, in each of which the writer is free to develop a period for himself. It is the editor's function to see that the links of the chain are adjusted to each other, end to end, and that no considerable subjects are omitted.
The point of view of The American Nation is that the purpose of the historian is to tell what has been done, and, quite as much, what has been purposed, by the thinking, working, and producing people who make public opinion. Hence the work is intended to select and characterize the personalities who have stood forth as leaders and as seers; not simply the founders of commonwealths or the statesmen of the republic, but also the great divines, the inspiring writers, and the captains of industry. For this is not intended to be simply a political or constitutional history: it must include the social life of the people, their religion, their literature, and their schools. It must include their economic life, occupations, labor systems, and organizations of capital. It must include their wars and their diplomacy, the relations of community with community, and of the nation with other nations.
The true history, nevertheless, must include the happenings which mark the progress of discovery and colonization and national life. Striking events, dramatic episodes, like the discovery of America, Drake's voyage around the world, the capture of New Amsterdam by the English, George Rogers Clark's taking of Vincennes, and the bombardment of Fort Sumter, inspired the imagination of contemporaries, and stir the blood of their descendants. A few words should be said as to the make-up of the volumes. Each contains a portrait of some man especially eminent within the field of that volume. Each volume also contains a series of colored and black-and-white maps, which add details better presented in graphic form than in print. There being no general atlas of American history in existence, the series of maps taken together will show the territorial progress of the country and will illustrate explorations and many military movements. Some of the maps will be reproductions of contemporary maps or sketches, but most of them have been made for the series by the collaboration of authors and editor. Each volume has foot-notes, with the triple purpose of backing up the author's statements by the weight of his authorities, of leading the reader to further excursions into wider fields, and of furnishing the investigator with the means of further study. The citations are condensed as far as is possible while leaving them unmistakable, and the full titles of most of the works cited will be found in the critical essay on bibliography at the end of each volume. This constant reference to authorities, a salutary check on the writer and a safeguard to the reader, is one of the features of the work; and the bibliographical chapters carefully select from the immense mass of literature on American history the titles of the most authentic and the most useful secondary works and sources. The principle of the whole series is that every book shall be written by an expert for laymen; and every volume must
therefore stand the double test of accuracy and of readableness. American history loses nothing in dramatic climax because it is true or because it is truly told. As editor of the series I must at least express my debt to the publishers, who have warmly adopted the idea that truth and popular interest are inseparable; to the authors, with whom I have discussed so often the problems of their own volumes and of the series in general; especially to the members of the committees of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Virginia Historical Society, Texas Historical Society, and Wisconsin State Historical Society, whose generous interest and suggestions in the meetings that I have held with them were of such assistance in the laying out of the work; to the public, who how have the opportunity of acting as judges of this performance and whose good-will alone can prove that the series justifies itself.
ALBERT BUSHNELL HART.
EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION This first volume of the series supplies a needed link between the history of Europe and the history of early America; for whether it came through a Spanish, French, English, Dutch, or Swedish medium, or through the later immigrants from Germany, from Italy, and from the Slavic countries, the American conception of society and of government was originally derived from the European. Hence the importance at the outset of knowing what that civilization was at the time of colonization. Professor Cheyney (chapters i. and ii.) fitly begins with an account of mediaeval commerce, especially between Europe and Asia, and the effect of the interposition of the Turks into the Mediterranean, and how, by their disturbance of the established course of Asiatic trade, they turned men's minds towards other routes to Asia by sea. Thence he proceeds to show (chapter iii.) how the Italians in navigation and in map-making exhibited the same pre-eminence as in commerce and the arts, and why Italy furnished so many of the explorers of the western seas in the period of discovery. It is an easy transition in chapter iv. to the dramatic story of the efforts of the Portuguese to reach India round Africa. The next step is to describe in some detail (chapters v. and vi.) the system of government and of commerce which existed in Spain, France, and Holland in the sixteenth century; and the book will surprise the reader in its account of the effective and far-reaching administration of the Spanish kingdom, the mother of so many later colonies. This discussion is very closely connected with the account of Spanish institutions in the New World as described by Bourne in his Spain in America (volume III. of the series), and we find the same terms, such as "audiencia," "corregidor," and "Council of the Indies" reappearing in colonial history. A much-neglected subject in American history is the development of great commercial companies, which, in the hands of the English, planted their first permanent colonies. To this subject Professor Cheyney devotes two illuminating chapters (vii. and viii.), in which he prints a list of more than sixty such companies chartered by various nations, and then selects as typical the English Virginia Company, the Dutch West India Company, and the French Company of New France, which he analyzes and compares with one another. It is significant that not one of these companies was Spanish, for that country retained in its own hands complete control both of its colonies and of their commerce.
Since English colonization was almost wholly Protestant and added a new centre of Protestant influence, Professor Cheyney has, in two chapters (ix. and x.), given some account of the Reformation and of the religious wars of the sixteenth century. He brings out not only the differences in doctrine but in spirit, and shows how, by the Thirty Years' War, Germany was excluded from the possibility of establishing American colonies, a lack which that country has found it impossible to repair in our day.
The mother-country for the American nation was in greater part England; even Scotland and Ireland contributed their numbers and their characteristics only in the third and fourth generations of the colonies. A considerable part of this volume, therefore (chapters xi. to xvi.), is given up to a description of the conditions of England at the time of the departure of the first colonists. Everybody knows, and nobody knows clearly, the religious questions in England from Elizabeth to James II. Here will be found a distinct and vivid account of the struggle between churchmen, Catholics, Puritans, and Independents for influence on the Church of England or for supremacy in the state. Why did the Catholics in general remain loyal? Why were the Puritans punished? Why were the Independents at odds with everybody else? Why did not Presbyterianism take root in England? These are all questions of great moment, and their adjustment by Professor Cheyney prepares the way for the account of the Pilgrims who founded Plymouth colony in Tyler's England in America (volume IV. of the series). An absolute essential for an understanding of colonial history before the
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