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POPULAR HISTORY OF
THE UNITED STATES
FROM THE EARLIEST DISCOVERIES OF THE WESTERN
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT
WITH MORE THAN SIXTEEN HUNDRED
ILLUSTRATIONS AND MAPS
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
COPYRIGHT, 1876, BY
COPYRIGHT, 1881, 1896, BY
RIGHT OF TRANSLATION RESERVED
Press of J. J. Little & Co.
The plan of the Popular History of the United States, now finally completed, was laid before Mr. William Cullen Bryant in 1874, and actual work was begun in the following year. It was Mr. Bryant's ambition and the purpose of the publishers to produce not only the best but the most comprehensive history of the country that had been or could be written in a popular form.
Under the supervision and leadership of Mr. Bryant, Mr. Sydney Howard Gay, long Mr. Bryant's chief assistant in the editorial management of the “ Evening Post,” was selected as the best equipped of all known to him to undertake the actual writing of such a work. Mr. Bryant's editorial supervision was to be constant and active throughout the entire preparation of the history, and the clear and vigorous Preface which he wrote (still retained in the completed work) laid down the lines of what he had in mind. In fact, however, he was able to read the proofs only of the first and second volumes before his death. Mr. Gay carried on the work to the completion of the original scheme. He had several assistants in the collection and preparation of material, and one important contributor in the Rev. Edward Everett Hale, who wrote the chapters in the second volume upon the Spanish Colonization in the Southwest.
Because of the very nearness of the Civil War and its consequences to the time at which the history was begun, much less space was accorded to the latter half of this century than its importance now calls for. Since the rise of the great literature concerning the Civil War, it has been possible to give to that passage of the great narrative a scale equal to that of the rest, and to take advantage of the invaluable material ungathered or uncodified at the time when Mr. Gay ended his work. Finally, as it has become evident that the quarter-century following the war is also to rank as one of the most momentous, – perhaps materially the most momentous of our history, - it has been felt that no book can now fulfil what this originally aimed to do without bringing the narrative to a very much later time than was at first thought of.
It was therefore decided a year or two ago by the publishers to remake the History beyond the chapters in the fourth volume which treat of the beginning of the war, and to confide the work of completing the book from that time to the present, and upon a greatly enlarged scale, to Mr. Noah Brooks, whose qualifications for such an undertaking need no attestation. The plan adopted, besides the rewriting of a portion of the fourth volume, has involved the addition of a fifth, and the narrative is now continued down to within a year or two of the actual present with a fulness not attempted, it is believed, in any other history of the same comprehensive scope.
A feature of the history to which from the beginning great care and expenditure have been devoted is its illustration, with which the greatest pains have been taken, not only as to historical accuracy but as to the quality of its art. The illustrators of the original history were the best men of the day, and the same standard is followed in the new portion, with the additional advantage of the improved processes for reproduction and perfected printing. The complete work contains over 1600 illustrations, which represent practically every illustrator who has been favorably known for the last twenty years.