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More than four years since, we contracted with Mr. John W. Barber to travel over the United States, collect materials, and take sketches for a work upon the entire country, on the original plan, first adopted by him, a quarter of a century since, in the Historical Collections of Connecticut. The result is, the book you hold.
The task bas been faithfully performed, and the work will interest MORE Minds than any as yet published upon the favored land, we Americans cherish as our own. The book appeals alike to State and National pride, and contains a vast and varied amount of information upon our whole country never before embodied, much of which could only have been obtained, as was this, by personal travel, observation and inquiry: and we state also, at a cost which, if anticipated, would have prevented the commencement of the enterprise-that is full fifteen thousand dollars before the paper was bought upon which to print it. We no x are glad it has been expended, as we thereby render the publication more worthy—a HOUSEHOLD BOOK for every American family, attractive to all, and an heirloom to posterity, to show them their country, ITS PAST AND PRESENT, illustrated with views of its cities, towns, and objects of interest, as they exist in these our days.
Our part in its preparation has been mainly contined to adding to the original manuscripts of Mr. Barber, whom we thus introduce to you. He is a plain old gentleman, who began life with only the solid education Connecticut gives all her sons—born at the close of the administration of George Washington, in the century that is past—with no especial pride, except in being a descendant of the Pilgrims, of whom he is a genuine, honest, and most unmistakable offshoot. His life has been one of untiring and useful industry, chiefly passed in compiling books, every page of which has been created with a view to benefit the public. No man living, in the Union, has taken so many views of places in it, as he, in making drawings for this and his various State works. His books have gratified all classes, the learned and unlearned, the old and young: A personal anecdote is proper here. On a time, in the years now gone, we were rattled over the paving stones of Broadway in an omnibus, and holding the first bound volume of a State work, the result of the joint labor of Mr. Barber and ourself. An elderly gentleman, in neat, and as we thought, somewhat humble attire, leaned over to look at our book: then putting an inquiry, which we answered, he rejoined—“I have Mr. Barber's Connecticut and Massachusetts, and I shall want that.” A moment later the vehicle stopped and our questioner left us. you know who that old gentleman is that spoke to you?” asked a fellow passenger, stranger. “ No sir." " That," added he, “is Chancellor KENT.”
On an adjacent page is a testimonial from Noah WEBSTER, which hits two points-shows the pen manship of the celebrated author of the American Dictionary of the English Language, and presents his opinion of the ability of Mr. Barber to prepare a historical work. Both then were townsmen. The venerable, slender form of Webster, in the garb of a gentleman of the old school, with broad brimmed hat, shading a benignant, scholarly face, with Quaker-like cut coat, short breeches and buckle shoes, was, at that period, a pleasant and daily object to be met moving modestly along under the proudly arching elms of New Haven.
As we have intended this work as an Authentic Record of every important event and date in American history, we would be thankful, if any error of moment should be discovered, that notice should be given us, so that in future editions it can be corrected. In conclusion, we expect, as we have a right to expect, from our countrymen, that the work will be received in the happy spirit that values what is effected, rather than the miserable one which demands a completeness unattainable excepting in the ideal. With this simple, unstilted talk to the reader, upon a purely business matter, we close.
“ Do also a
TESTIMONIAL FROM NOAH WEBSTER, L.L.D.
John W Barber & Asaph Willard are collect
ecting materials & me-
Knowledge of this means of the great lobor & expense which they
The above is a fac-simile of the hand-writing of Dr. Webster, the author of the American Spelling Book, and the American Dictionary of the English Language, commendatory of the Connecticut Historical Collections, by John W. Barber, author also of this work. That publication was the first of a series of State works, prepared in the same manner. This work, "Our Whole Country, or the Past and Present of the United States," is essentially on the same plan.
P R E F A CE:
HISTORY, BIOGRAPHY and GEOGRAPHY, are subjects to which every intelligent being is attracted, and the more so when they relate to one's own country. These branches of knowledge enter into the rudiments of our education, and continue to interest us, to a greater or less extent, throughout the whole period of subsequent life. Books upon them, to meet the wants of all classes, should be plain, concise, and yet sufficiently full to present the material points.
The plan of this work is original with us, and was first adopted, some twenty-five years since, while preparing a publication giving the history, antiquities, etc., of Connecticut. In that volume, after the outline history of the State was given, each Township was particularly described by itself, including everything of importance in its history, antiquities, and present condition. In like manner, in this work is an outline history of the United States; then each State and Territory is particularly described by itself, embracing everything of general interest respecting its history, geography, etc., including an account of the principal places, their first settlement, with biographical sketches, and facts of a local and general interest.
Since the Historical Collections of Connecticut was published, several state works have been issued upon that plan. These are the Historical Collections of Massachusetts, of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia, Kentucky, and Ohio. The success and very general commendation of these by the most intelligent minds in their respective states, has led to the belief that a similar work on the United States would be received with equal favor by the whole country. For the purpose of collecting the materials, and making the necessary drawings to illustrate them, we have traveled upward of sixteen thousand miles. Much has been obtained from original settlers in various parts of the Union. In revolutionary history interesting details have been given in past days, by personal conversation with actors and eye-witnesses, of the scenes described, all of which is herein embraced.
The primary object of history being a truthful relation of facts, original accounts, as given by witnesses, and in their own words as far as practicable, in general best answers this end. A trifling incident, accidentally, as it were, so introduced, which might be considered beneath the dignity of the histo