American Historical Documents, 10001904. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
NO final history of the United States of America has been written, or is likely to be written. Research is constantly bringing to light new facts that correct details or modify the traditional view of larger questions; and the most impartial historian is subject to personal or sectional bias which leads to his works being regarded as imperfect by another generation, or as unfair by the people of parts of the country other than his own. In such a series as the present, then, it is unwise to represent the story of the growth of this nation by the summary of any one scholar.
The alternative has been to place before the reader a selection of the most important documents which record in contemporary terms the great events in the history of the country. Beginning with the personal records of the earliest discoverers of the continent, the selection goes on to present the first attempts at organizing a machinery of government made by the first settlers of the New England colonies; proceeds to the landmarks of the struggle for independence and the formation of the Constitution; shows the laying of the foundation of national policies and of the interpretation of the Constitution; indicates by the texts of the treaties themselves the acquisition of each successive increase of territory; and reveals by the original state papers the main causes and effects of the wars in which the country has from time to time been engaged. Read in succession, these documents afford a condensed view of the political progress of the American people; freed from any prejudice save that which swayed the makers of the history themselves.