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SHORTLY after the conclusion of the late war, the author of the following work removed to the city of Washington, where he resided several years. His situation brought him into familiar intercourse with many respectable, and some distinguished persons, who had been associated with Washington; and the idea occurred to him of attempting to compile a Life of the Father of his Country, which might possibly address itself to the popular feeling more directly than any one hitherto attempted. With this object in view, he took every occasion to gather information concerning his private life and domestic habits from such sources as could be relied on as authentic.
Though the work has been long delayed, the design has never been relinquished. But subsequent reflection has induced him to alter his original intention, by attempting to adapt it to the use of schools, and generally to that class of readers who have neither the means of purchasing, nor the
leisure to read, a larger and more expensive book. It appeared to him, that the life of Washington furnished an invaluable moral example to the youth of his country, and that its introduction to their notice could not but be useful to the rising generation of his countrymen, by holding up to their view the character and actions of a man whose public and private virtues equally furnish the noblest as well as the safest objects for their guide and imitation.
In compiling this work, the writer has availed himself of all the sources of information within his reach; and though possessed of materials for a much larger one, has compressed them in a manner which, it is hoped, will bring it within the reach of those to whom it is peculiarly addressed. Much of the information concerning the private life and habits of Washington, was derived from the information of his contemporaries then living, but most of them now no more, and from the means afforded by the present most estimable lady who is now in possession of Mount Vernon.
In detailing the events of the Revolution, the writer has principally consulted the public and private letters of Washington, which have long been before the world, as the most unquestionable authorities; though it must be obvious, that a work
intended for the purposes he has avowed, must necessarily be confined to those more consequential events, in which Washington was himself personally engaged, except in so far as is necessary to connect the narrative. He has avoided citing his authority on every occasion, because such a course would, he thought, interfere with the uses for which the work was intended, by presenting continual interruptions; but his readers may be assured, that he has inserted nothing which he does not believe to be true, and for which, if necessary, he cannot produce the authority of history, of Washington himself, or of undoubted traditions.
In a work addressed to the youth, and to the popular feeling of his country, it seemed allowable, if not absolutely necessary to the purposes of the writer, to place the actions of Washington before the reader in a manner the more strongly to affect his reason as well as his imagination, and to accompany them with reflections calculated to impress him deeply with the virtues and services of the Father of his Country. His desire was to enlist their affections-to call forth their love, as well as veneration, for the great and good man whose life and actions he has attempted to delineate; and in so doing he has appealed rather to the feelings of nature than to the judgment of criticism.
New-York, August, 1835.