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HE design of this book is to direct students to the
evolution of constitutional government from the time of the declared policy of Henry I. towards his subjects to the present day. Its broader purpose is stated in detail in the Introduction, but a few brief words of explanation and acknowledgments of criticism and assistance give occasion for this Preface.
The following chapters are the result of informal lectures given before my classes at the State Normal School in Lowell, Massachusetts, where we have for several years followed a course of study in Constitutional History (as given in the Outlines in the Appendix of this volume). In preparing students for the profession of public school teaching, I have deemed it wise to impress them with the underlying principles of citizenship and government, and to prove to them that the love of liberty is a noble inheritance of the past.
In the special study of these written bulwarks of our freedom my aim has been to further the interest in original documents by comparing the details of the different articles, by discussing their bearing, by pointing out the development of constitutional history, and by noting the evolution of one document of liberty from the preceding one. The book makes no pretensions to exhaustive exposition, either of the documents discussed or of the critical material cited. It is meant as an aid to teacher and pupil whose time for historical research is limited, and it is but suggestive of the possibilities of further intensive study.
The outline on Constitutional History has served its purpose with my own classes, and in the ninth grade of our grammar department of the Practice School it is used as the basis for more detailed work. The fact that a large majority of the pupils who are to be benefited by public instruction finish their technical education with the last year in the grammar schools makes it imperative that a course in American institutions and politics be presented which shall make intelligible to them the great race movement of which they are an integral part.
At the same time that I offer this work to my fellows in the profession, I beg to acknowledge my gratitude to those friends who have assisted me with aid, advice, and criticism. Professor Albert Bushnell Hart, of Harvard University, Cambridge, and Judge Samuel P. Hadley, of Lowell, Mass., have guided me materially in my research for contemporaneous and latter-day comments. Mr. Henry A. Clapp, of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, has given most generously of his time in making translations from certain Latin texts. The Hon. James O. Lyford, naval officer of customs, Boston, Mass., has added to the varied suggestions and services of years by following the work of the outline with critical interest. I am indebted to the Librarians of the Harvard Library, Massachusetts State Library, and the Lowell City Library for their courteous liberality in the use of books.
I take this opportunity to thank the various authors and publishers of copyright works from which material has been drawn, for permission to reprint the passages desired. The full titles of these works, with publishers' names, are given in Appendix D at the end of this volume.
LOWELL, Mass., November, 1900.
"HAT history is based on sources no longer needs asser
tion; that the public state papers of the nation are among the most important sources for an understanding of the true spirit of past times has been a familiar truth since Dr. Stubbs put forth his immortal volume of Select Charters; no careful student and no thoughtful teacher any longer attempts to investigate or to present history without reading and thinking about the constitutional sources. Dr. Stubbs, however, was one of the men most aware that a document does not explain itself; it was his practice in his classes to expound and criticise his own charters. As the knowledge of, and publication of, materials has widened, choice and a suggestive arrangement have become more and more important in making up useful collections; and there is now a great mass of intelligent discussion by historians and publicists, which may be drawn upon by those who have been unable to sit at the feet of the masters. It is an encouragement to those most interested in history that there seems a demand for reprints of properly selected sources, and especially of constitutional documents illustrated by some reference to contemporary writers, set forth by adequate comment, and so arranged as to bring out the development of a nation's constitutional progress.
Miss Hill, in her Liberty Documents, has undertaken to provide for what is believed to be an interest in the foundations of English and American free government: at the same time she has endeavoured to avoid some of the obvious difficulties in
dealing with official and sometimes technical documents, by supplementing them with the light and life of discussion. The most approved method of historical teaching for schools of various grades, seems to be a text-book, backed up by reading both in the sources and in secondary books. Miss Hill has in this book brought about an ingenious and promising combination of the two sorts of historical material; and she has further divided the authors whom she uses, according as they wrote at or near the date of the documents, or as they came afterward, and could use the learning that had meantime accumulated. Out of the immense number of interesting and important documents in English and American constitutional history, Miss Hill has chosen twenty-four documents, or groups of documents, which include the great monuments of Anglo-Saxon liberty, and at the same time are sufficiently representative of the mass of omitted papers. Each of these documents she has prefaced with appropriate “Suggestions” which include some statement of the historical conditions under which the document first saw the light, and in a few words shows the relation of each piece with other materials of the same kind. Then follows in each case the "text” of the document. The earlier pieces, such as Magna Charta and the Confirmatio Chartarum, were written in Latin ; and therefore translations have been reprinted, or made expressly for this volume. The English documents of the seventeenth century were of course first written with the spelling, capitalization, and abbreviations usual at that time, and they have been transliterated by sub stituting the ordinary form for the long s, and reducing the capitalization and spelling to modern usage. The documents of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are in general reproduced verbatim. In all cases an authentic text has been examined and compared, and omissions are indicated. As an example of the technical phraseology of English statutes, and in order to put at the convenience of the schools the full text,