The opening chapter of this work was prepared during the recent presidential campaign.
It was the idea of the author that it should appear in one of the leading newspapers or magazines before the election, but maturer reflection brought about a change of purpose.
He realized that its publication at that time, might, not altogether unreasonably, be looked upon as a political move having as its object the election or defeat of a particular candidate for office, whereas he had no desire to play the partisan.
His sole aim was to vindicate the character of a portion of the citizens of this country --some living, some dead-whom he had always believed to be most deserving of popular esteem, from what he considered the unmerited aspersions of a man who has since come into a position so conspicuous and so influential that his condemnation necessarily carries with it a damaging effect.
Having gone so far as the preparation of the initial chapter, he concluded that proofs of his assumptions and assertions might at certain points be thought desirable, if not necessary, and that he should so prolong his work as to provide them.
His first idea at this point, as his years went back beyond the beginning of the Abolitionist movement in this country, and as he had been from early boyhood
identified with this movement, was to contribute such information as his recollection of events would supply.
In other words, he decided to write a narrative, the matter of which would be reminiscent, with here and there a little history woven in among the strands of memory like a woof in the warp.
It has ended in history supplying the warp, and the reminiscence indifferently supplying the woof.
However, the value of the production is, doubtless, greatly enhanced by the change.
A string of pearls-dropping the former simile and adopting another — is estimated according to the gems it contains, and not because of the cord that holds it together.
The personal experiences and recollections that are here and there interwoven, by themselves would be of little consequence; but they will be found to carry upon them certain historical facts and inferences — some new in themselves and in their connections-which, as the author hopes and believes, are of profitable quality and abounding interest.
In consequence of the change of plan just explained, the scope of the work is materially affected.
What was begun as a magazine article, and continued as a brochure, ends in a volume.