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The need of providing large college classes with collateral reading in a course on the economic history of the United States has led to the preparation of this book. Its purpose has therefore been primarily to provide a sufficient body of material to supplement the more systematic text book and lectures. This material has, with only one or two exceptions, been drawn from contemporary sources; in the later periods, with the growing wealth of such material, official documents have been largely used. But in every period these documents have been supplemented by the more human and the more illuminating comments of travelers, observers, and others who were entitled to speak authoritatively. Where controversial matters have been treated, every effort has been made to present both sides fairly.

In the face of the great amount of material available for such a work as this the main task of the editors has necessarily been one of selection, and in performing this task they have endeavored to present a comprehensive yet balanced picture of the economic activities and development of each period. Agriculture, manufactures, tariff, commerce, transportation, money and banking, labor, and the movement of the population have, each in turn, been given due emphasis in the panoramic picture here unfolded. As among the different periods it is believed that a balance has been maintained that will commend itself to teachers of American history. To the period from 1600 to 1808 about one fourth of the book is devoted; one half to that from 1808 to 1860; and the remaining fourth to the period since the Civil War.

No effort has been made to adapt this book of readings to use with any particular text, and it is hoped that teachers of United States history in general will find it of value in presenting some phases of our development which do not always find a place in political histories.




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