the present Volume completes the History of the American Revolution
, considered in its causes.
The three last explain the rise of the union of the United States from the body of the people, the change in the colonial policy of France, and the consequences of the persevering ambition of Great Britain
to consolidate its power over America.
The penal Acts of 1774 dissolved the moral connection between the two countries, and began the civil war.
The importance of the subject justified comprehensive research.
Of printed works my own collection is not inconsiderable; and whatever else is to be found in the largest public, or private libraries, particularly in those of Harvard College, the Boston Athenaeum
, which is very rich in pamphlets, and the British Museum, have been within my reach.
Still greater instruction was derived from manuscripts.
The records of the State Paper Office
of Great Britain
best illustrate the colonial system of that country.
The opportunity of consulting them was granted me by the Earl
of Aberdeen, when Secretary of State
, and continued by Viscount Palmerston
, by Earl Grey, and by the Duke
They include the voluminous correspondence of all military and civil officers, and Indian Agents, employed in America; memorials of the American Commissioners
of Customs; narratives, affidavits, informations, and answers of witnesses, illustrating the most important occurrences; the journals of the Board of Trade; its Representations to the King
; its intercourse with the Secretary of State
; the instructions and letters, sent to America, whether from the King
, the Secretary of State
, or the Board of Trade; the elaborate abstracts of documents prepared for the Council; opinions of the Attorney
and Solicitor General
; and occasionally private letters.
I examined these masses of documents slowly and carefully; I had access to every thing that is preserved; and of no paper however secret it may have been in its day, or whatever its complexion, was a copy refused me.
I owe to Lord John Russell
permission to extend my inquiries to the records of the Treasury, of which he at the time was the head; so that all the volumes of its Minutes and its Letter-books, which could throw light on the subject of my inquiries, came under my inspection.
The proceedings in Parliament till 1774 had something of a confidential character; from sources the most various, private letters, journals, and reports, preserved in France
, or England
, or in America, I have obtained full and trustworthy accounts of the debates on the days most nearly affecting America.
Many papers, interesting to Americans
, are preserved in the British Museum, where I have great reason to remember the considerate attention of Sir Henry Ellis
At the London Institution
, in Albemarle Street, also, the Secretary
, Mr. Barlow
, obtained for me leave to make use of its great collection of American military correspondence.
It was necessary to study the character and conduct of the English Ministers
Of Chatham's private letters perhaps few remain unpublished; Mr. Disney
imparted to me at the Hyde, two volumes of familiar notes, that passed between Chatham
, full of allusions to America.
of Lansdowne consented to my request for permission to go through the papers of his father, the Earl
of Shelburne, during the three periods of his connection with American affairs; and allowed me to keep them, till by a continued examination and comparison they could be understood in all their aspects.
Combined with manuscripts which I obtained in France, they give all the information that can be desired for illustrating Lord Shelburne's relations with America.
My thanks are also due to the Duke
of Grafton, for having communicated to me unreservedly the autobiography of the third Duke
of that name, who besides having himself been a Prime Minister, held office with Rockingham
, Chatham, Lord North, and Shelburne.
The late Earl
of Dartmouth showed me parts of the journal of his grandfather, written while he occupied the highest place at the Board of Trade.
Of all persons in England, it was most desirable to have a just conception of the character of the King
, when Minister at the Court of St. James, keeping up in his busiest hours the habit of doing kind offices, obtained for me from Lady Charlotte Lindsay
, copies of several hundred notes, or abstracts of notes from George the Third to her father Lord North
Afterwards I received from Lady Charlotte
herself communications of great interest, and her sanction to make such use of the letters, as I might desire, even to the printing of them all. Others written by the King
in his boyhood to his governor Lord Harcourt
, Mr. Harcourt
was so obliging as to allow me to peruse at Nuneham.
The controversy between Great Britain
and her Colonies attracted the attention of all Europe, till at length it became universally the subject of leading interest.
To give completeness to this branch of my inquiries, in so far as Great Britain
was concerned either as a party or an observer, the necessary documents, after the most thorough and extensive search, were selected from the Correspondence with Ministers, Agents
, and others in France
, and several of the smaller German Courts, especially Hesse Cassel
The volumes examined for this purpose were very numerous, and the copies for my use reach to all questions directly or indirectly affecting America; to alliances, treaties of subsidy, mediations, and war and peace.
The relations of France to America were of paramount importance.
I requested of Mr. Guizot
, then the Minister
, authority to study them in the French Archives
‘You shall see every thing that we have,’ was his instant answer, enhancing his consent by the manner in which it was given.
The promise was most liberally interpreted and most fully redeemed by Mr. Mignet
, whose good advice and friendly regard lightened my toils, and left me nothing to desire.
, the Assistant Keeper
of the Archives, under whose immediate superintendence my investigations were conducted, aided them by his constant good will.
The confidence reposed in me by Mr. Guizot
was continued by Mr. Lamartine
, Mr. Drouin de Lhuys
, and by Mr. de Tocqueville
As the Court of France was the centre of European diplomacy, the harvest from its Archives was exceedingly great.
There were found the reports of the several French Agents
sent secretly to the American
colonies; there were the papers tracing the origin and progress of the French Alliance
, including opinions of the Ministers
, read in the Cabinet Council to the King
Many volumes illustrate the direct intercourse between France and the United States
But besides these, I had full opportunity to examine the subject in its complication with the relations of France to England
, and other Powers; and this I did so thoroughly, that when I took my leave, Mr. Dumont
assured me, that I had seen every thing, that nothing, not the smallest memorandum, had been withheld from me.
Besides this, I acquired papers from the Ministry of the Marine
, and from that of War. The Duke de Broglie
gave me a most pleasing journal of his father when in America; Mr. Augustin Thierry
favored me with exact and interesting anecdotes, derived from Lafayette
; and my friend Count Circourt
was never weary of furthering my inquiries.
My friend Mr. J. Romeyn Brodhead
, was so kind as to make for me selections of papers in Holland, and I take leave to acknowledge, that Mr. J. A. de Zwaan
of the Royal
Archives at the Hague
, was most zealous and unremitting in his efforts to render the researches undertaken for me, effective and complete.
I have obtained so much of Spanish Correspondence, as to have become accurately acquainted with the maxims by which the Court of Spain governed its conduct towards our part of America.
Accounts of the differences between America and England are to be sought not only in the sources already referred to, but specially in the correspondence of the Colony Agents
resident in London, with their respective Constituents.
I pursued the search for papers of this class, till I succeeded in securing letters official or private from Bollan
; Jasper Mauduit
; Richard Jackson
,—the same who was Grenville
's Secretary at the Exchequer, a distinguished Member of Parliament, and at one time Agent for three Colonies;—Arthur Lee
; several unpublished ones of Franklin
; the copious and most interesting, official and private Correspondence
of William Samuel Johnson
, Agent for Connecticut
; one letter and fragments of letters of Edmund Burke
, Agent for New-York; many and exceedingly valuable ones, of Garth
a Member of Parliament and Agent for South Carolina
; and specimens of the Correspondence of Knox
, as Agents
Analogous to these are the confidential communications which passed between Hutchinson
and Israel Mauduit
and Thomas Whately
; between one of the Proprietaries of Pennsylvania
and Deputy Governor Hamilton
; between Cecil Calvert
and Hugh Hammersley
, successive Secretaries
, and Lieutenant Governor Sharpe
; between Ex-Governor Pownall
and Dr. Cooper
of Boston; between Hollis
and Andrew Eliot
Of all these I have copies.
Of the letter-books and drafts of letters of men in office, I had access to those of Bernard
for a single year; to those of Hutchinson
for many years; to that of Dr. Johnson
, the patriarch of the American Episcopal Church, with Archbishop Secker
; to those of Colden
; to those of Lieutenant Governor Sharpe
Many letters of their correspondents also fell within my reach.
For the affairs of the Colonies I have consulted their own Archives, and to that end have visited in person more than half the old thirteen colonies.
Long continued pursuit, favored by a general good will, has brought into my possession papers, or copies of papers, from very many of the distinguished men of the country in every colony.
Among those who have rendered me most valuable aid in this respect, I must name in an especial manner the late Mr. Golden
of New-York, who intrusted to me all the manuscripts of Lieutenant Governor Golden
, covering a period in New-York history of nearly a quarter of a century; the late Mr. Johnson
of Stratford, Connecticut
, who put into my hands those of hi father, containing excellent contributions alike to English and American history; my friend Dr. Potter
, the present Bishop
, who furnished me numerous papers of equal interest and novelty, illustrating the history of New-York and of the Union
; Mr. Force
of Washington City
, whose success in collecting materials for American History is exceeded only by his honest love of historic truth; Mr. J. F. Eliot
of Boston; Mr. William B. Reed
, Mr. Langdon Elwyn
, and Mr. Edward D. Ingraham
of Philadelphia; Mr. Tefft
, and Mr. Swaine
of North Carolina
, who show constant readiness to further my inquiries; the Connecticut Historical Society; the President
and Officers of Yale College, who sent me unique documents from the Library of that Institution; Mr. William C. Preston
of South Carolina
, to whom I owe precious memorials of the spirit and deeds of the South
The most valuable acquisition of all was the collection of the papers of Samuel Adams
, which came to me through the late Samuel Adams Welles
They contain the manuscripts of Samuel Adams
, especially drafts of his letters to his many correspondents, and drafts of public documents.
They contain also the complete journals of the Boston
Committee of Correspondence, drafts, of the letters it sent out, and the letters.
it received, so far as they have been preserved.
The papers are very numerous; taken together they unfold the manner in which resistance to Great Britain
grew into a system, and they perfectly represent the sentiments and the reasonings of the time.
They are the more to be prized, as much of the correspondence was secret, and has remained so to this day.
If I have failed in giving a lucid narrative of the events which led to the necessity of Independence, it is not for want of diligence in studying the materials, which I have brought together, or of laborious care in arranging them.
The strictest attention has been paid to chronological sequence, which can best exhibit the simultaneous action of general causes.
The abundance of my collections has enabled me, in some measure, to reproduce the very language of every one of the principal actors in the scenes which I describe, and to represent their conduct from their own point of view.
I hope at least it will appear, that I have written with candor, neither exaggerating vices of character, nor reviving national animosities, but rendering a just tribute to virtue wherever found.
New-York, 18th May, 1854.