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When the following work was commenced, it was intended to have been comprised within one volume, and to have contained only such facts and statistics, as might be considered interesting in reference to the present condition of this country. Such, however, is the intimate connection between the institutions of a country, and its history, and so difficult is it to explain the character of that which exists, without reference to something which has preceded it, that we found it impossible to avoid mingling historical details, with the statements which it was our main purpose to have presented. On further reflection, it was determined to extend the plan, so as to embrace two volumes; one of which should be devoted exclusively to historical matter, and the other, to descriptive and statistical information.
It has not been the object of the writer, to attempt a regular history of this region, or any connected description of the country, or its institutions. The materials for such a work are not in existence; no
complete collection of political or statistical facts, or scientific observations, has yet been made, from which such a work could be compiled. Ignorant and presumptuous travelers have published their own hasty and inaccurate conceptions; and careless writers have selected from these, such supposed facts, as comported with their gratuitous theories, or notions of probability; and we hesitate not to say, that the works which have professed to treat of the whole western region, have been failures. Particular departments of this great subject, have been well treated. Dr. Drake's admirable description of the Miami valley, entitled “A Picture of Cincinnati,” is written in the cålm spirit of philosophical inquiry, and is worthy of entire confidence. The travels of Pike, Lewis and Clarke, and Long, are replete with valuable facts, carefully collected, and reported with scrupulous fidelity. The statistics embraced in Darby's “ Views of the the United States," and Brackenridge's “ Louisiana,” may be safely relied upon.
But these works embrace but a small portion of the whole ground. The best compilation from these and other authorities, and the only one which may be consulted with safety, is Tanner's Guide to Emigrants,” a volume prepared with great care and fidelity. When the materials shall be accumulated when the loose facts and scattered reminiscen
ces, which are now floating along the stream of tradition, shall be gathered together, then may such a work be prepared, as will be creditable to our country. Until then, we can only aim at presenting to the public, such fragments of history as may be rescued from oblivion by individuals; and such observations, as the few, who are curious in collecting the statistics of their own times, may be able to accumulate.
In the following volumes, therefore, nothing further is attempted, than a collection of facts; many of which are the result of the writer's own observation. These are not presented in any connected series, nor with any embellishment of style; but are placed before the reader, under the most unambitious form, consistent with convenience of arrangement, and propriety of expression. This is not said to disarm criticism; an author has no right to interpose himself between the critic and his duty, either to secure his clemency, or resent his decision; but simply to explain to the reader, the unpretending character of these volumes, in order that their appearance may not awaken expectations, which they are not calculated to satisfy.