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P R E F A Ċ E.
O event ever proved so interesting, to mankind in general and to the inhabitants of Europe in particular, as the discovery of the new world, and the passage to India by the cape of Good Hope: it at once gave rise to a 'revolution in the commerce and in the power of nations, as well as in the manners, industry and government of almost the whole world. At this period new connections were formed by the inhabitants of the most distant regions, for the supply of wants they had never before experienced. The productions of climates situated under the equator were consumed in countries bordering on the pole ; the industry of the north was transplanted to the south ; and the inhabitants of the west were clothed with the manufacture's of the east ; in short, a general intercourse of opinions, laws and customs, diseases and remedies, virtues and vices, were established amongst men.
In Europe, in particular, every thing has been changed in consequence of its commerce and connection with the American continent; but the changes which took place prior to the late revolution, (which established the liberties of the United States, and transformed the dependent colonies of Britain into an independent commonwealth, or rather a society of commonwealths) only served to increase the misery of mankind, adding to the power of despotism, and rivetting faster the Ihackles of oppression; the commerce of Spain, in particular, with the new world, has been supported by a system of rapine,
murder and oppression ; a system that has spread desolation and distress not only in America, but in Europe and Africa. She has, however, benefitted but little by it, for her strength, commerce and industry, have evidently declined in proportion to the influx of the gold of the new continent. With GreatBritain, for a considerable period, things appeared somewhat different; till the epoch of the revolution her commerce with America increased her national strength, and added to her own industry and wealth, while it desolated and ravaged the coast of Africa.
From the period of the revolution, the influence of America on Europe has been of a different kind : the glorious struggle which the United States sustained, and the inquiries to which that eventful period gave rise, did much to raise mankind from that state of abje& lavery and degradation, to which despotism, aided by superstition, had sunk them : from that period the rights of man began to be understood, and the principles of civil and religious liberty have been canvassed with a freedom before unknown, and their influence has extended itself from the
palace to the cottage: in short, the revolution in the late British American colonies bids fair ultiinately not only to occasion the emancipation of the other European colonies on that continent, but to accomplish a complete revolution in all the old governments of Europe.
We have already seen a patriot king, aided by a hero who fought for the cause of freedom under Washington, struggling to render his people free and happy ; and we have witneffed a perjured defpot expiating his crimes on the scaffold, at the.command of a people roused to a sense of their injuries and rights, by men who had aflisted in establishing the liberties of America.
-In reflecting on those scenes as individuals, we can only lament the want of fuccess which has attended the former, and regret the crimes of ambitious and unprincipled individuals, which have certainly tarnished, but not destroyed, the glory
of the revolution, which has attended the latter. The forma will, however, ere long pass away, and returning peace will leave the oiher nations of Europe' at liberty to contemplate without prejudice, not only their own situation, but the tesources of France drawn forth into action under the influence of an energetic government, founded on the will of the people, and administered at an expenfe far less than what the pensioned minions of its former corrupt court alone devoured. Whenever that period arrives, and arrive it will, it needs 'not a spirit of inspiration to assert, that the other nations of Europe must submit to a thorough reformation, or be content to behold their commerce, agriculture, and population decline.
In the mean time the United States are profiting by the convulsed situation of Europe, and increafing, in a degree hitherto unparalleled in the history of nations, in population and opulence. Their power, commerce and agriculture, are rapidly on the increase, and the wisdóm of the federal government has hitherto been such as to render the prospect of a fete tlement under its fostering influence truly inviting to the merchant, the manufacturer, the mechanic, and the industrious'tabourer: nor have these alone found the United States advantageous ; the persecuted in France or England have there found an asylum, where their lives, property and liberty are secure ; where they may almost say, the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at reft. Nor can any doubt be entertained, but in a short period the man of science, as well as the contemplative and experimental philosopher, will find the Thores of Columbia equally propitious to their wishes. Education is sending forth its illuminating rays, and its inAuence on the rising generation will aid the Americans in all their other pursuits.
: The inhabitants of Europe are not insensible of thesć favourable circumstances. The charms of civil and religious libersy, the advantages of an extensive and fertile, but onculti
vated country, of an increasing commerce, unshackled and uns encumbered by heavy and impolitic duties and imposts, have already invited numbers to leave its bosom-numbers, which the iron hand of persecution and the awful prospects of intertinę division or abject lavery, will continue to increase.
The attention of Europe in general, and of Great-Britain in particular, being thus drawn to the new world, the Editor, at the instigation of some particular friends, undertook the talk, which he hopes he has in some degree accomplished in the following volumes, of affording his countrymen an opportunity of becoming better acquainted with its settlement by Europeans—the events that led to the establishment and independence of the United States the nature of their government—their present situation and advantages, together with their future prospects in commerce, manufactures and agria culture. This formed the principal design of the work; but he farther wished with this to connect a general view of the situation of the remaining European possessions in America and the West-India islands; this has been therefore attempted, and nearly a volume is dedicated alone to this subject. Connected with the above, one object has been constantly kept in view, namely, to afford the emigrator to America a summary of general information, that may in some measure serve as a directory to him in the choice of a residence, as well as in his after pursuits. This suggested the propriety of adopting the plan which Mr. Morse had laid down in his American Geography; and this must plead in excuse for the miscellaneous matter introduced in the third volume, at the close of the history of the States.
How far the Editor has succeeded in the accomplishment of this object is not for him to determine; he can only say, he has spared no pains, nor neglected any opportunity, which his situation permitted him to embrace to obtain information; and he has to express his obligations for the obliging communica
tions of many, whose names the peculiarity of his own situation will not for obvious reasons permit him to mention, but for whose friendship he shall ever retain the most lively fentia ments of esteem and gratitude. The Editor's thanks are like wise particularly due to several gentlemen of the society of Quakers, for the documents which have enabled him, with thorough convi&ion, to wipe off the odium whích Mr. Chalmers, in his Annals, and the authors of the Modern Universal History, followed by Mr. Morse, had thrown on the character of William Penn and the first settlers of Pennsylvania,* and on whose authority they were by him inserted.
With respe&t to the printed authorities which the Editor bas followed, he has not only borrowed their ideas, but, where he had not the vanity to conceive himself capable of correcting it, he has adopted their language, so that in a long narrative he has often no other claim to merit than what arises from selection and a few connecting sentences: as, however, by this method it has often become difficult for an author to know his own, the Editor at once begs leave to say, he has availed himself of the labours and abilities of the Abbé Raynal, Franklin, RobertJon, Clavigero, Jefferson, Belknap, Adams, Catesby, Buffan, Gordon, Ramsey, Bartram, Cox, Rush, Mitchel, Cutler, Imlay, Fillon, Barlow, Brillot, Morse, Edwards, and a number of others of less import, together with the transactions of the English and American philosophical societies, American Museum, &c.
* The Editor has particularly to request, that those who have taken this work in Numbers, will, in justice to himself, as well as to the character of William Penn, del roy the half-Meet, signature P p vol. ii. page 289 to 296 inclusive, and substitute ihe half-Meet of the saine signature, given in the last Number, in its stead the same is requested re- ípccting the Constitution of Penn'ylvania and the other cancels marked.