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The first two volumes of this work were issued somewhat less than a year ago. Considering the peculiar character of the work, I could not but await the public verdict upon it with some degree of anxiety, and now that it has been rendered in part, I am not disposed to dissemble the high gratification I have received from it. That my own partial friends should have looked kindly on the effort, perhaps I had a right to expect; but that the tone of the press should have been so uniformly indulgent,-ignoring even imperfections of which I was myself painfully sensible, after having done the best that I could,—was certainly more than I could reasonably look for. I hardly need say that I have already realized the good effect of this kindly reception, in the increased vigour and alacrity with which I have been able to carry forward the work.
I am indebted to several friends, especially to the Rev. J. L. Sibley, the present Librarian of Harvard College, for directing my attention to a few small errors, chiefly in respect to dates, nearly all of which have been already corrected in the stereotype plates.
I am willing to hope that the two volumes now published will not fall below the preceding ones in point of interest; but of this it is for the public, and not me, to judge. Of this at least I am certain that there has been no less of care
and vigilance in the preparation of them; and they have required a much greater amount of labour, owing chiefly to the fact that, in the latter case, a large proportion of the biographical material has been necessarily gathered by correspondence with the surviving relatives and friends of the parties commemorated, whereas, in the former, much the greater part of it had already been embodied in printed documents, most of which were easily accessible.
There is one circumstance that has rendered the selecting of the subjects for these volumes a much more difficult task than for the previous ones,-namely, that the Presbyterian Church is so much less compact than the Congregational. It does not indeed reach back so far in point of time, but it covers a much wider space; and though I have corresponded extensively with prominent clergymen in the different States, with a view to make the best selection possible, I have little doubt that even their obliging efforts in my behalf have left the veil upon a goodly number of names that I should have delighted to honour. And then there are others of which I have been able, after the most diligent search, to find out only enough to make me regret that the ravages of time have put it out of my power to embalm them. I hope this statement will induce those who miss honoured or cherished names, which they may have expected to find, to regard the omission in any other light than as even a negative reflection on the memories of their friends.
It will, I doubt not, occur to some that there is a disproportionate relative importance given to some names in the measure of space which is devoted to them. quite aware that this, in one point of view, is an imperfection; and yet every one who reflects must perceive that
it was inseparable from my general plan. I have not much fear that any of the numerous communications with which my
friends have honoured the work will be found too long; but there are a few which I doubt not that others as well as muyself will wish had been longer. In one or two instances, I have been obliged to dismiss a very eminent name, with a bare epitome of the character, because I have been utterly unable to find any one whose recollections would enable him to render a more extended testimony.
Notwithstanding the work is limited by its title to the close of the year 1855, I have allowed myself occasionally to introduce in notes names incidentally occurring, that have been added to the list of the dead since that period. They have, however, necessarily been treated so briefly, that they still remain legitimate subjects for biography.
The numbers under the name, at the commencement of each article, denote, so far as I have been able to ascertain, the commencement and the close of the individual's ministry. Where one has belonged successively to two denominations, he is placed in connection with the one in which he died. In that case, though the history of his whole ministerial life is given, the numbers indicate only the period of his latest ministerial connection; except in those cases in which the denominations are more immediately allied to each other,--as for instance the different branches of the Presbyterian family, and the Congregationalists; and then the numbers, as well as the sketches, range through the whole period of their ministry.
Notwithstanding I have mentioned, in the General Preface, the names of several persons to whom I am largely indebted for biographical material, independently of the commemorative letters, that number has since so much increased
that I may be allowed to mention several more in connection with the Presbyterian department, as specially, though by no means exclusively, entitled to my grateful acknowledgements. To Dr. Krebs, Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of New York, to Dr. Rodgers, Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of New Brunswick, and to Dr. Howe, Professor in the Theological Seminary at Columbia, S. C., who has in his possession the Records of the Presbytery of South Carolina, and a great amount of other biographical material, I am indebted for much statistical information, which, otherwise, would either have been entirely wanting, or would have lacked its present character of perfect authenticity. Among others who have rendered me most important service which the work itself might not at first reveal, are the Rev. Daniel Dana, D. D., Newburyport, Mass.; Thomas W. Blatchford, 11. D., Troy, N. Y.; Rev. John Forsyth, D.D., Newburgh, N. Y.; the late Rev. William Hill, D. D., Winchester, Va.; the Rev. William H. Foote, D. D., Romney, Va.; Mrs. Dr. John H. Rice, Prince Edward County, Va.; Rev. R. II. Morrison, D. D., Cottage Home, N. C.; Rev. Thomas Cleland, D. D., McAfee, Ky.; Rev. Joel K. Lyle, Paris, Ky.; Rev. Joseph H. Martin, Knoxville, Tenn.; J. G. M. Ramsey, M. D., Mecklenburg, Tenn.; and Rev. F. A. M'Corkle, D. D., Greenville, Tenn.
In the General Preface I have expressed my obligation to the Rev. Richard Webster, for the use of a large collection of valuable manuscripts in regard to the early history of the Presbyterian Church. Those manuscripts, together with much other valuable matter, have since been published in an octavo volume; and, as the printing of that work was contemporaneous with the revision of mine, the publisher kindly sent me the proof sheets in advance, that I
might avail myself of the author's latest corrections. I have, however, retained my original reference,—-Webster's MSS.;” but it will be understood that they are identical with a portion of “Webster's History of the Presbyterian Church in America."
Of the other works to which I have been more or less, and in some instances largely, indebted for material for these two volumes, are Dr. Hodge’s History of the Presbyterian Church ; Dr. Foote's Historical Sketches of Virginia and North Carolina; Dr. Davidson's History of the Presbyterian Church in Kentucky; Dr. Smith's Old Redstone, or Historical Sketches of Western Presbyterianism; Dr. Alfred Nevin's Churches of the Valley; and Rev. James H. Hotchkin's History of Western New York. All these works possess great value, and evince extensive research. The three noble volumes of Dr. Foote especially, covering, as they do, a large tract of country in which Presbyterianism has been most at home, and made up, to a great extent, of material on which the pall of oblivion had long rested, and which nothing but his persevering industry could have exhumed, justly entitle him to a high and enduring place among the benefactors of his denomination. I must not omit to say that I have derived important aid from Dr. Allen's American Biographical Dictionary, the last edition of which is so much enlarged and improved as to be almost a new work; and from the new edition of Dr. Blake's Biography, in superintending which he performed his last earthly labours.
I have stated so explicitly, in the General Preface, the principles on which the work is constructed, that I deem it unnecessary either to repeat or to add any thing here on that subject. But I may be allowed to refer with satis