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and in the very throat of death upon the coast of Britain and her colonies which dared not resist her, dies away in the roaring of the surges that once echoed them amongst the dismayed subjects of George III. I had intended to have gathered something like a Register of Naval Heroes of the Revolution. The following extract of a letter from the Secretary of the Navy shows the impossibility of doing it. * “The Records of the Department do not enable me to furnish the information you request, respecting the “Naval Officers who signalized themselves during the War for Independence;” the correspondence of the Congressional Committee on Marine affairs during the Revolutionary War, does not contain complete lists, even of the Commanders, much less of the several officers attached to the public vessels during that important and interesting period of our history. “As the work which you contemplate publishing will, it is believed, be one of public utility, it will afford me pleasure to furnish any information connected with the subject that may be found in the archives of the Department.” From such promiscuously scattered materials was the following volume composed. At this remove of time—from the ravages of death, amongst those who survived the revolution, and the diminution and almost destruction of necessary materials for the Biography of Dead Worthies, the difficulty of doing any thing like justice to the memories of . the Naval Heroes of the American Revolution, is greatly augmented. The stain of ingratitude toward our surviving revolutionary fathers is, in some degree, wiped off by the auspicious administration of the FIFTH PRESIDENT of the REPUBlic. It remains for the PREss to rescue the memories of the
“Illustrious Dead” from oblivion, and to incorporate their .
Fame with the archives of the Republic. The INTRoduction to these Sketches will be useless to the well versed historian ; but was designed as a mere “birds-eye view” for the young American reader, who has not yet made, as he certainly will endeavour to make himself acquainted with the causes that induced—the astonishing events that accompanied, and the unrivalled characters developed in the SENATE, upon the FIELD, and on the OcEAN, in the American Revolution. As to these “Biographical Sketches,” the writer can frankly say that with the materials he had, and the circum
stances under which he wrote, he has done the best he
could; and should the first continue to accumulate, and the last be bettered, he hopes his future efforts will be more deserving of the flattering patronage the public has bestowed, not upon the writer, but upon the publishers of his previous productions. Eighty Thousand large duodecimo volumes of them published within the four past years, may have increased the presumption of the writer, although the sales of them have added nothing to his pecuniary means. This imperfect and unpolished volume is literally “thrust into the world, scarce half made up”—“ in forma pauperis,” without claiming one smile of patronage— one mite of literary aid, one cheering favour from the fortunate sons of academic acquirements. It is all the writer has now to offer—and if this little all will have been repulsed; the one who offers it, will feel undisturbed at the sneers of a censorious world, to which he acknowledges but little obligation, as from it, he has hitherto received but a scanty portion of favour.
THE AUTHOR. Hartford, Conn. September 5th, 1823.
HON. SMITH THOMPSON,
SECRETARY OF THE NAVY.4
Avoiding the fulsome eulogy which characterises the dedications of mercenary writers, who bask in the rays of Royal Favour—catch the unmeaning smiles of Lords Temporal—the relaxed frowns of Lords Spiritual, and whose language is animated or languid, as their Pensions are greater or lesser, I offer this volume to you, Sir, with the frankness of an American, whose ancestors wielded the sword of
Freedom, but never the pen of flattery.
Those acquirements as a Scholar, STATESMAN, and JURIST, which once placed you at the head of a great STATE Court in the Union, and now sustains you at the head of the Navy Department of the ConFEDERATED REPUBLIc, were the well founded causes of your unsolicited promotion—first, by the
constituted authorities of a leading member of the Union, which
* Since this was written, the Secretary has been appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of the United States.
knew you best—next, by the government of the whole Republic
which knew and appreciated your merits. The voice of your countrymen declares, that while you derive honour from the exalted station you fill, you impart honour to the station itself. However much your name may add to the little intrinsic value of these Sketches of “NAvAL HEroes of The RevoluTion,” it cannot remove their imperfections. With all these, however, it is offered to you as a small token of the Respect of,
Sir, Your Obd’t. Serv't. with high consideration.