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This book is an attempt to accomplish two objects: a critical survey of the political history of the United States, particularly in its parliamentary phase, from the Presidential candidacy of Jackson to the accession of Tyler, with a preliminary review of the preceding period beginning with the origin of the War of 1812; and to exhibit the influence of the men who shaped events. The first permits a rapid and independent treatment of the subject from a new point of view; and the second, the introduction of the personal element, which gives to history its keenest interest and its greatest charm.
The epoch treated is the most suggestive and dramatic in our history. It marks the full development of American political methods, and possesses the most distinguished galaxy of public men ever brought together on the political scene in this country. General histories, however useful and excellent, subordinate men, and biographies either magnify individuals beyond their influence and importance, or do not adequately portray their contemporaries and the general perspective. This book, therefore, is an effort to combine and symmetrize both historical elements in order to present a true and lifelike picture of a most animated political epoch.