To write an account of the history of the United States since the Civil War without bias, without misstatements of fact and without the omission of matters that ought to be included, would be to perform a miracle. I have felt no wonder-working near me. I can claim only to have attempted to overcome the natural limitations of having been brought up in a particular region and with a traditional political, economic and social philosophy. I have tried to present as many sides of every question as the limitations of space permitted and to look sympathetically upon every section, every party and every individual, because the sympathetic critic seems to me most likely to discover the truth.
It used to be believed that history could not be written until at least half a century had elapsed after the events which were to be chronicled. It is of course true that only after the lapse of time can students gain access to ample documentary material, rid themselves of partisan prejudice and attain the necessary perspective. Unhappily, however, the citizen who takes part in public affairs or who votes in a political campaign cannot wait for the labors of half a century. He must judge on the basis of whatever facts he can find near at hand. Next to a balanced intelligence, the greatest need of the citizen in the performance of his political duties is a substantial knowledge of the recent past of public problems. It is impossible to give a sensible opinion upon the transportation problem, the relation between government and industry, international relations, current politics, the leaders in public affairs, and other peculiarly American interests without some understanding of the United States since the Civil War. I have tried in a small way to make some of this information conveniently available without attempting to beguile myself or others into the belief that I have written with the accuracy that will characterize later work.
Some day somebody will delineate the spiritual history of America since the Civil War - the compound of tradition, discontent, aspiration, idealism, materialism, selfishness, and hope that mark the floundering progress of these United States through the last half century. He will read widely, ponder deeply, and tune his spirit with care to the task which he undertakes. I have not attempted this phase of our history, yet I believe that no account is complete without it.
I have drawn heavily on others who have written in this field - Andrews, Beard, Paxson and Peck, and especially on the volumes written for the American Nation series by Professors Dunning, Sparks, Dewey, Latane and Ogg. Haworth's United States in Our Own Time, 1865-1920, was unfortunately printed too late to give me the benefit of the author's well-known scholarship. Many friends have generously assisted me. My colleagues, Professors F.A. Updyke, C.A. Phillips, G.R. Wicker, H.D. Dozier, and Malcolm Keir have read the manuscript of individual chapters. Professor E.E. Day of Harvard University gave me his counsel on several economic topics. Professor George H. Haynes of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Professor B.B. Kendrick of Columbia University, Professor W.T. Root of the University of Wisconsin, and Professors L.B. Richardson and F.M. Anderson of Dartmouth College have read the entire manuscript. Officials at the Dartmouth College Library, the Columbia University Library, and the Library of Congress gave me especial facilities for work. Two college generations of students at Dartmouth have suffered me to try out on them the arrangement of the chapters as well as the contents of the text. Harper and Bros. allowed me to use a map appearing in Ogg, National Progress, and D. Appleton and Co. have permitted the use of maps appearing in Johnson and Van Metre,Principles of Railroad Transportation; A.J. Nystrom and Co. and the McKinley Publishing Co. have allowed me to draw new maps on outlines copyrighted by them. At all points I have had the counsel of my wife and of Professor Max Farrand of Yale University.
CHARLES R. LINGLEY. Dartmouth College, June 14, 1920.