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as sent to his correspondents. These imperfect drafts were laid aside, and from time to time copied by an amanuensis into the letterbooks. Hence the drafts, as now recorded, do not in all cases agree precisely with the originals that were sent away. My researches have brought under my inspection many of these original letters. Regarding them as containing the genuine text, I have preferred it to that in the letter-books, and it has accordingly been adopted whenever it could be done. But the discrepances are of little moment, relating to the style, and not to the substance. For the most part I have been obliged to rely on the letterbooks; and, for the reasons here mentioned, it is probable that the printed text may not in every particular be the same as in the originals, that is, the corrected copies, which were sent to his correspondents. These remarks apply chiefly to private letters, written when Washington was at Mount Vernon, and to those written during the French war. In the periods of the Revolution and the Presidency, much more exactness was observed; and, as far as my examination has extended, there is generally a literal accordance between the original letters and the transcripts in the letter-books.
The materials for the Notes and Appendixes have been collected from a great variety of sources, which it would be impossible, within the limits of a preface, either to describe or enumerate. Avoiding historical disquisitions, reflections, and remarks not connected with the immediate purpose, the object has been to explain the writings and acts of WashingThe illustrations supplied by the notes and appendixes, being derived almost wholly from unpublished manuscripts, may justly claim to be considered as authentic, and as new contributions to history.
Letters in foreign languages, and extracts from such letters, have been translated, for the convenience of every class of readers. It will be easy to ascertain what passages are translated, by the names of the writers, who were foreigners, and whose names are mentioned. Lafayette wrote to Washington and to other American officers in English; but his letters to the French ministry and to foreign officers were in his native tongue. The letters from Count de Rochambeau to Washington were likewise usually in English, having been translated by a secretary, who understood that language.
To General Lafayette I have been under
very great obligations for the papers and information with which he furnished me, and for the assistance he rendered in facilitating my researches in the archives at Paris. Copies of numerous papers relating to the American Revolution, and a copy of his whole correspondence with the French government, which was procured from the public offices, he intrusted to my charge, with the permission to publish any parts, or the whole, in such form and manner as my judgment should dictate. The use that has been made of them, and their value, will appear throughout these volumes.
The public generally, not less than the Editor of this work, is indebted to Lord Holland for a very curious and interesting paper, which will be found in the Appendix to the Sixth Volume, and which consists of extracts from a correspondence between George the Third and Lord North relative to the American war. These extracts were selected by Lord Holland from the manuscripts of Sir James Mackintosh, and they certainly form the most remarkable document connected with the history of the Revolution.
My thanks are due to Mr. Justice Story for the lively interest he has manifested in my labors, and for the benefit I have often
derived from his suggestions and advice. To Mr. Samuel A. Eliot, also, I would here make a public acknowledgment of the substantial and valuable aid he has in various ways lent to my undertaking, the successful issue of which has been promoted in no small degree by his friendly offices and personal exertions.
Copious Indexes are added to the last Volume, in constructing which much care has been bestowed and much difficulty encountered, particularly in regard to names and dates; but it is hoped, that a good measure of accuracy has been attained, and that they will furnish all the facilities to readers, which could be expected in a work of such variety and extent.
In writing the Life of Washington, which is comprised in the First Volume, I have endeavoured to follow closely the order of time, adopting the plan of a personal narrative, and introducing collateral events no farther than was absolutely necessary to give completeness to this design. After the able, accurate, and comprehensive work of Chief Justice Marshall, it would be presumptuous to attempt a historical biography of Washington. Yet it must be kept in mind, that
much the larger portion of his life was passed on a conspicuous public theatre, and that no account of it can be written, which will not assume essentially the air of history. Anecdotes are interwoven, and such incidents of a private and personal nature as are known; but it must be confessed, that these are more rare than could be desired. I have seen many particulars of this description which I knew not to be true, and others which I did not believe. These have been avoided; nor have I stated any fact for which I was not convinced there was credible authority. If this forbearance has been practised at the expense of the reader's entertainment, he must submit to the sacrifice as due to truth and the dignity of the subject.
During the progress of this work, its two earliest patrons and best friends, Judge Washington and Chief Justice Marshall, have died. Their character and deeds are recorded in the annals of their country, and are too well known and highly valued to need any eulogy in this place; but I should do equal injustice to their memory and to my own feelings, if I were not to acknowledge with gratitude the encouragement and assistance I received from their kindness, counsel, and coöperation.