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In the 1840s and 50s, political upheavals and threats of secession engendered
deep divisions in the United States. Eye-witness reports from these troubled
times help you develop your own view of this critical period in American history
as you read the words of James K Polk, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and Abraham
Lincoln. This volume begins with accounts from political and military
participants in the Oregon boundary dispute and the war with Mexico, which
resulted in the annexation of California. Brigham Roberts, official historian of
the Church of Latter-Day Saints, describes the Mormon exodus to Utah; a “forty-
niner” recalls the hardships of the California gold rush; and Commodore Perry
tells of his treaty with Japan. Read John Brown’s final speech and letters;
Lincoln’s famous oration “A house divided …” and accounts of his nomination
for the Presidency; and Jefferson Davis’s farewell address to the Senate and
inaugural address as Confederate President.

Introduction To The Series

“After you’ve heard two eyewitness accounts of an auto accident, you begin to
worry about history.” This observation, attributed to the comedian Henny
Youngman, summarizes the dilemma you face when you want to find out what really
happened in the past. When you read a history book, the “facts” are actually the
author’s own interpretation, often colored by a conscious or unconscious wish to
have you share a particular point of view. You’re one step (or many steps)
removed from the original source material.

That’s why the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States compiled this 12-
volume collection of writings of people who actually witnessed the key events in
American history - the actual actors in the events or contemporary observers of
them. Past historians have spent decades locating, studying and consulting vast
amounts of material such as this. This meticulously chosen selection brings you
the essence of history as originally recorded by those who participated in it.

You’ll be reading mostly eye-witness accounts, by people contemporary with the
events they describe, including many significant historical figures themselves.
So you can make your own assessments, draw your own conclusions and gain an
understanding of past events undistorted by the prejudices, assumptions and
selectivity of professional historians. In some instances where there aren’t
reliable or easily accessible eye-witness accounts, the compilers have chosen
extracts from objective, authoritative historians of past generations such as
Francis Parkman whose judgements have stood the test of time. Through these
accounts, your knowledge of American history will be immeasurably greater, your
understanding of the key events in the building of the nation immensely
increased.

Founded in 1899, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) is a
nonprofit organization dedicated to foster camaderie among United States
veterans of overseas conflicts, from the Spanish-American War to Iraq and
Afghanistan, and to ensure that they receive due respect and entitlements for
the sacrifices they and their loved ones have made on behalf of the nation. With
this mission, the VFW has a natural desire to encourage a broad understanding
and appreciation of American history, and this essential collection of
historical documents makes a huge contribution to that aim.

This reissue was scanned, formatted and converted to e-book format by
Library4Science.com with the permission and encouragement of the VFW, to make
the series more accessible to a wider public. The VFW receives 50% of all
royalty revenue from these e-books. This book is about 300 print pages long.

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