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IN T R O DU CTION.
It is now more than twenty years since the design of this work was conceived in the mind of the Publisher. The leading idea was to collect and preserve in compact form, for reference and perusal, the official communications made from time to time by the several Presidents of the United States to the representatives of the people thereof; and to present in connection therewith, a succinct political history of the country as developed in the records of the lives of the chief magistrates and their successive administrations, and the periodical revealments of the census.
The Messages of the Presidents having been taken from the official records, preserved in our national archives, and care and candor having been employed in framing a narrative of the leading events of each administration, it is believed that in this work are contained the most important, as well as the most reliable materials or our national history since the organization of the government under the federal constitution. It can not be otherwise than a faithful and true picture, for every form and color has been drawn from official sources, and these have been arranged in harmony, without political prejudice or party bias. It is to be regretted that such records, so essential to the truth of history, are so rare, and the most difficult of all things to be obtained. For this reason, the publisher feels special pleasure in presenting the work to the public, as an exception to a general rule.
The necessary labor in the preparation of this Manual for the statesman and the student of our history, has been continuous and immense. The work first appeared in one volume, in the year 1839; after which it came under the editorial supervision of the late Edwin WILLIAMs, who had been previously well known in this country and in Europe, through his Annual Register and kindred works, as one of our most careful, experienced, and competent staticians. Untiring in research, sagacious and discriminating in his selections, broad-visioned in his contemplation of subjects, with an extraordinary memory of statistical and political events, and of unswerving integrity in private life and in public duties, he was precisely the man for such an undertaking; and for about fifteen years he had the sole editorial management of the work. During that time several new editions appeared, always enlarged by the ever-increasing materials, and improved by attention to the teachings of experience; and uniformly commanding the unqualified approbation of the press and of public men throughout this country. In the autumn of 1854, death suddenly called Mr. Williams away from his earthly labors and friends, and the publisher was left without a reliable associate in the prosecution of a work so important and meritorious. To select another to fill the seat thus unexpectedly made vacant, demanded serious reflection and careful scrutiny. But the publisher did not long remain unsatisfied. He turned to a long-tried friend, whose knowledge of his country's history is thorough, and whose delineations thereof with pen and pencil are as familiar as household words, throughout the republic, and asked his aid. It was cheerfully offered; and the publisher of the Statesman's Manual takes great pleasure in introducing the name of its present editor, BENson J. LossING. He is too well known as a faithful historian to require any further remark. Under Mr. Lossing's industrious and careful hand, the Manual has been greatly enlarged and improved; and it is now presented to the public in four thick royal-octavo volumes, covering more than three thousand pages. An examination of the several new subjects embraced in the contents, in addition to the extension of the messages, biographies, and political history, will render it apparent that this edition is far superior to any of its predecessors. Mr. Lossing has thoroughly revised all of the statistical tables which have appeared in former editions, and added others. He has also introduced sketches of the lives of the Presidents of the Continental Congress; an account of the cost of the War for Independence; a notice of the Executive Officers under the old Confederation ; a collection of the Proclamations of the several Presidents of the United States ; a sketch of our Diplomatic and Consular System : new and corrected abstracts of the State Constitutions; extended the Chronological Table to the present time; given a full account of the Public Property of the United States, and historical sketches of the several Executive Departments having it in charge; and a copy of every Treaty with a Foreign Power made from the year 1778 to that of 1858. These treaties, which are a special feature of this edition, are given in full, from official copies, and occupy more than four hundred pages of our work. Each treaty is prefaced by a brief sketch of its origin and object, the whole forming a faithful chronicle of the continued expansion of our political and commercial relations with other nations. A complete Analytical Index, arranged with care and clearness, in alphabetical order, is appended, by which the record of facts contained in these volumes may be readily found. This help will be appreciated by those who shall consult the work as particular occasion may require. Other minor improvements might be mentioned, which combine to make this work, we believe, the most important and essential, not only to the politician and statesman, but also to every citizen who desires to possess a full and faithful picture of the political history of the United States, and thus obtain a clear and comprehensive view of the workings of our federal system of government, ever issued from the press. The publisher has felt a just pride in watching its steady, healthful, and comely growth from infancy to its present manly proportions and nobility of character. He is conscious of its excellence, and therefore with perfect faith he sends it forth on its errand of usefulness, with a full assurance that it will gather golden opinions for its own encouragement, and scatter the treasures of knowledge for the enrichment of others, in all its journeyings. E. W.