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since that time are so familiar to the people, that a synopsis, within the scope of this book, must be too meagre for general interest. I have endeavored to give a fair and faithful compilation of the views and opinions of the eminent statesmen of the country, of both parties, from the organization of the government to 1854, while both of the great political parties were organized upon a basis that embraced the South as well as the North. The base of the structure is laid in the organization of the government itself, and the views of the men who framed it. Let the reader first examine well the base, and then, step by step, ascend to the summit, examining, as he ascends, the best lights he can obtain, and then, like a rational, thinking, independent man, form his own conclusions with reference to this question, and act accordingly. Keeping in view the peace and welfare of the country, he will hardly act amiss, for there can be no safer guides for the present, than the lights and precedents of the past.
I can hardly expect that this volume will escape partisan censure and criticism. Extremists, both North and South, I have no doubt, will con
demn it. This I cannot help; I only ask the reader to remember, that it is a compilation of the opinions of those who laid, broad and deep, the foundations of civil and religious liberty, and of those eminent statesmen who succeeded them, and who have shed a halo of fadeless glory around the character of the American nation. If I be the subject of reproach for the compilation, what would be meted out to those patriots and sages, were they now upon earth, and should they again proclaim the doctrines of their day and generation? It is not I who speak, but rather the voice of the immortal dead, a voice from the tombs of those great spirits, who, through the perils of war and revolution, established a government, the freest and the happiest on earth, and bequeathed it to us. Let us heed their admonitions, emulate their profit by their examples.
Wilkesbarre, Penn., June 18, 1860.
E. B. C.
Debates in the convention of Massachusetts-Rev. Mr. Backus,