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Preface to the First Edition - Viscount James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, vol. 1 
The American Commonwealth, with an Introduction by Gary L. McDowell, 2 vols (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1995).
Part of: The American Commonwealth, 2 vols.
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Preface to the First Edition
As the introductory chapter of this work contains such explanations as seem needed of its scope and plan, the Author has little to do in this place except express his thanks to the numerous friends who have helped him with facts, opinions, and criticisms, or by the gift of books or pamphlets. Among these he is especially indebted to the Hon. Thomas M. Cooley, now Chairman of the Inter-State Commerce Commission in Washington; Mr. James B. Thayer of the Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Mass.; Hon. Seth Low, formerly Mayor of Brooklyn; Mr. Theodore Roosevelt of New York; Mr. G. Bradford of Cambridge, Mass.; and Mr. Theodore Bacon of Rochester, N.Y.; by one or other of whom the greater part of the proofs of these volumes have been read. He has also received valuable aid from Mr. Justice Holmes of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts; Mr. Theodore Dwight, late Librarian of the State Department at Washington; Mr. H. Villard of New York; Dr. Albert Shaw of Minneapolis; Mr. Jesse Macy of Grinnell, Ia.; Mr. Simeon Baldwin and Dr. George P. Fisher of Newhaven, Conn.; Mr. Henry C. Lea of Philadelphia; Col. T. W. Higginson of Cambridge, Mass.; Mr. Bernard Moses of Berkeley, Cal.; Mr. A. B. Houghton of Corning, N.Y.; Mr. John Hay of Washington; Mr. Henry Hitchcock of St. Louis, Mo.; President James B. Angell of Ann Arbor, Mich.; Hon. Andrew D. White of Syracuse, N.Y.; Mr. Frank J. Goodnow of New York; Dr. Atherton of the State College, Pennsylvania; and the U.S. Bureau of Education. No one of these gentlemen is, however, responsible for any of the facts stated or views expressed in the book.
The Author is further indebted to Mr. Low and Mr. Goodnow for two chapters which they have written, and which contain, as he believes, matter of much interest relating to municipal government and politics.
He gladly takes this opportunity of thanking for their aid and counsel four English friends: Mr. Henry Sidgwick, who has read most of the proofs with great care and made valuable suggestions upon them; the Rev. Stopford A. Brooke, whose literary criticisms have been very helpful; Mr. Albert V. Dicey, and Mr. W. Robertson Smith.
He is aware that, notwithstanding the assistance rendered by friends in America, he must have fallen into not a few errors, and without asking to be excused for these, he desires to plead in extenuation that the book has been written under the constant pressure of public duties as well as of other private work, and that the difficulty of obtaining in Europe correct information regarding the constitutions and laws of American States and the rules of party organizations is very great.
When the book was begun, it was intended to contain a study of the more salient social and intellectual phenomena of contemporary America, together with descriptions of the scenery and the aspects of nature and human nature in the West, all of whose States and Territories the Author has visited. But as the work advanced, he found that to carry out this plan it would be necessary either unduly to curtail the account of the government and politics of the United States, or else to extend the book to a still greater length than that which, much to his regret, it has now reached. He therefore reluctantly abandoned the hope of describing in these volumes the scenery and life of the West. As regards the non-political topics which were to have been dealt with, he has selected for discussion in the concluding chapters those of them which either were comparatively unfamiliar to European readers, or seemed specially calculated to throw light on the political life of the country, and to complete the picture which he has sought to draw of the American Commonwealth as a whole.
October 22, 1888.