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AN authentic History of this State has been long and much desired. Maine is a corner-pillar in the American Republic. Its territory equals one half of New-England,—its natural resources are great and various—its climate is good—its population now considerably exceeds 400,000,—and only two individual States have a greater extent of seaboard or more shipping. Several settlements have existed within its limits, more than two centuries; through which period, as plantations have spread and multiplied, it has been the destiny of successive generations to struggle with wars and difficulties reiterated and uncommon, and to wade through sufferings deep and indescribable. The last age, however, particularly since the American Revolution, has been a period of remarkable prosperity, apparent in the improvements, wealth and numbers of the people.
To present, in a general historic view of such a State, the circumstantial details of facts and events, so as to meet with universal acceptance, cannot be anticipated. Approbation, or censure, often springs from the motive of perusal ; nay, what affords entertainment to one, may be more than toil to another. All are never equally pleased with the same repast, for men as often differ in taste and opinion, as in feature and character.—As to parts and arrangement, it is presumed the Introductory Sections need no apology for their length, as they give a history of nature, little less entertaining than that of culture and society. Should any one raise objections to the long Narratives of Indian Wars interspersed, it is believed, he must, on reflection and review, be fully convinced, that any considerable abridgement of them would occasion an unsatisfying void;—so much have the fortune and fate of the country, depended upon the amity or hostilities of the natives. Nor by any means could the early history of this State possess the attribute of perspicuity, without frequent allusions to the annals of Nova Scotia; as the political affairs and current events in that Province, and in the eastern parts of Sagadahock, were for a century, blended too entirely and perpetually, to be kept separate and distinct. The topographical notes upon Towns contain facts which could not with propriety be incorporated with the text, and yet were thought too valuable to, be lost; for descriptions of these municipalities are not only interesting to their respective inhabitants,—they are collectively the local chronicles of the State itself.
This production, though it has cost the Compiler many years' unremitting labor, is presented to an enlightened community, with great diffidence : For he is sufficiently aware, that the arrangement, the style and the correctness, are to pass in review before many invidious bystanders, disposed to censure rather than to commend; while the more alloyed parts are to be severely tested in the crucible of the critic. Nor perhaps ought any one in the present age to expect a better destiny, who relates facts for the public eye,—designed for the perusal of all classes, under the responsibility of his name. The Historian, in short, is the devoted recorder of truth ; authentic annals are his stories; and facts monumental as marble are the only materials allowed in his employment. It is a departure from duty and an imposition upon his readers, to give reins to his imagination and freedom to his pen—permitting them to play with figures, flowers and phantoms in the fields of fancy.
The Compiler's research for materials has been thorough, in the Libraries of the Capitol at Washington, the Boston Athenaeum, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Massachusetts' Historical Society. He has also made extracts from more than twenty volumes of the Massachusetts' Public Records, and from letters of 150 correspondents, residing in different parts of the State. The works of the oldest and best Authors have been carefully consulted ;—a list of whose names will be submitted.—Availing himself of all these and some other sources of information, he has written, with great care and assiduity, a General History of the State : and the Public, will determine, whether any expression appears, inconsistent with what is chaste and correct in religion, sentiment or fact,— or whether such an amount and variety of matter, distributed through a period of 200 years, could have been judiciously compressed within a narrower compass. The plan chosen may not have been the best; for like surveyors and settlers in all new Countries, he has been obliged to traverse an unexplored region, where the footsteps of no predecessor to any considerable extent could be traced. Should the work possess the humble merit of being a useful compilation, he will not have labored in vain ; for man subserves the purposes of his moral existence, when he does what is a real benefit to his Country.
Williamson, William D., "History of the State of Maine; From Its First Discovery, A. D. 1602, to the Separation, A. D. 1820, Inclusive" (1832). Maine History Documents. 34.
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