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A Short History of the United States by Channing

[Illustration: ABRAHAM LINCOLN.]

"Our children shall behold his fame, The kindly-earnest, brave, foreseeing man, Sagacious, patient, dreading praise, not blame, New birth of our new soil, the first American."












The aim of this little book is to tell in a simple and concise form the story of the founding and development of the United States. The study of the history of one's own country is a serious matter, and should be entered upon by the text-book writer, by the teacher, and by the pupil in a serious spirit, even to a greater extent than the study of language or of arithmetic. No effort has been made, therefore, to make out of this text-book a story book. It is a text-book pure and simple, and should be used as a text-book, to be studied diligently by the pupil and expounded carefully by the teacher.

Most of the pupils who use this book will never have another opportunity to study the history and institutions of their own country. It is highly desirable that they should use their time in studying the real history of the United States and not in learning by heart a mass of anecdotes,--often of very slight importance, and more often based on very insecure foundations. The author of this text-book, therefore, has boldly ventured to omit most of the traditional matter which is usually supposed to give life to a text-book and to inspire a "love of history,"--which too often means only a love of being amused. For instance, descriptions of the formation of the Constitution and of the struggle over the extension of slavery here occupy the space usually given to the adventures of Captain John Smith and to accounts of the institutions of the Red Men. The small number of pages available for the period before 1760 has necessitated the omission of "pictures of colonial life," which cannot be briefly and at the same time accurately described. These and similar matters can easily be studied by the pupils in their topical work in such books as Higginson's _Young Folks' History_, Eggleston's _United States and its People_, and McMaster's _School History_. References to these books and to a limited number of other works have been given in the margins of this text-book. These citations also mention a few of the more accessible sources, which should be used solely for purposes of illustration.

It is the custom in many schools to spread the study of American history over two years, and to devote the first year to a detailed study of the period before 1760. This is a very bad arrangement. In the first place, it gives an undue emphasis to the colonial period; in the second place, as many pupils never return to school, they never have an opportunity to study the later period at all; in the third place, it prevents those pupils who complete this study from gaining an intelligent view of the development of the American people. And, finally, most of the time the second year is spent in the study of the Revolutionary War and of the War for the Union. A better way would be to go over the whole book the first year with some parallel reading, and the second year to review the book and study with greater care important episodes, as the making of the Constitution, the struggle for freedom in the territories, and the War for the Union. Attention may also be given the second year to a study of industrial history since 1790 and to the elements of civil government. It is the author's earnest hope that teachers will regard the early chapters as introductory.

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