The purpose of the writer in the following pages is apparent in the title-page.
He has selected, from the various authentic histories, memoirs, and
reminiscences which have appeared during the last fifty years, the narratives of
those events which were at once the most striking and important in our national
annals, and presented them in a collective form. The view thus exhibited,
bears the same relation to a complete and connected history that a sketch does
to a finished picture. The strong points and striking features only are
represented; but, at the same time, a vivid conception is afforded
of the whole subject. The imagination of the reader receives, perhaps, a
livelier impulse from the sketch than it would from the picture. What is
delineated suggests more to the active fancy than if the delineator had
endeavoured to place the whole upon
his canvas; and the reader is more agreeably occupied in filling up the vacant
parts by his own imaginative or recollective faculty, than if nothing had been
wanting to render the picture complete.
The author has found his task an agreeable one.
The history of our country is filled with incidents which do honour to the
American character; and every true patriot must feel gratification in perusing
the records of those heroic and disinterested actions which shed light and glory
on our national annals. If the following pages fail to render full justice to
those who have deserved well of their country by high achievements in the field
and on the ocean, it is not from any deficiency of zeal in the cause.
So far as his limits would permit, the author has earnestly endeavoured to
render all honour to whom honour is due.