and just way to deal with the tenets and positions from time to time held by) contending parties — this, namely: to cite fully and fairly from the ‘platforms’ and other formal declarations of sentiment put forth by each ; or (in the absence of these) from the speeches, messages, and other authentic utterances, of their accepted, recognized chiefs.
This I have constantly and very freely done throughout this volume.
Regarding the progress of Opinion toward absolute, universal justice, as the one great end which hallows effort and recompenses sacrifice, I have endeavored to set forth clearly, not only what my countrymen, at different times, have done, but what the great parties into which they are or have been divided have believed and affirmed, with regard more especially to Human Slavery, and its rights and privileges in our Union.
And, however imperfectly my task may have been performed, I believe that no preexisting work has so fully and consistently exhibited the influences of Slavery in molding the opinions of our people, as well as in shaping the destinies of our country.
To the future historian, much will be very easy that now is difficult; as much will in his day he lucid which is now obscure; and he may take for granted, and dispatch in a sentence, truths that have now to be established by pains-taking research and elaborate citation.
But it is by the faithful fulfillment of the duties incumbent on us, his predecessors, that his labors will be lightened and his averments rendered concise, positive, and correct.
Our work, well done, will render his task easy, while increasing the value of its fruits.
Some ancient historians favor their readers with speeches of generals and chiefs to their soldiers on the eve of battle, and on other memorable occasions; which, however characteristic and fitting, are often of questionable authenticity.
Modern history draws on ampler resources, and knows that its materials are seldom apocryphal.
, the Pinckneys, Marshall
, etc., etc., have from time to time propounded as to the nature and elements of our Federal pact, the right or wrong of Secession, the extension or restriction of Slavery under our National flag, etc., etc., is on record; and we know, beyond the possibility of mistake, its precise terms as well as its general purport.
We stand, as it were, in the immediate presence of the patriot sages and heroes who made us a nation, and listen to their well-weighed utterances as if they moved in life among us to-day.
Not to have cited them in exposure and condemnation of the novelties that have so fearfully disturbed our peace, would have been to slight and ignore some of the noblest lessons ever given by wisdom and virtue for the instruction and guidance of mankind.
It has been my aim to recognize more fully than has been usual the legitimate position and necessary influence of the Newspaper Press
of our day in the discussion and decision of the great and grave questions from time to time arising among us. To-day, the history of our country is found recorded in the columns of her journals more fully, promptly, vividly, than elsewhere.
More and more is this becoming the case with other countries throughout the civilized world.
A history which takes no account of what was said by the Press in memorable emergencies befits an earlier age than ours.
As my plan does not contemplate the invention of any facts, I must, of course, in narrating the events of the war, daw largely from sources common to all writers on this theme, but especially from The Rebellion Record
of Mr. Frank Moore
, wherein the documents elucidating