Front Page Titles (by Subject) Preface to the Edition of 1910 - The American Commonwealth, vol. 1
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Preface to the Edition of 1910 - 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.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Preface to the Edition of 1910
As the introductory chapter of this book contains such explanations as seem needed of its scope and plan, I have little to do here except advert to the alterations made in it since it was first published in 1888. Some years afterwards, in 1893–95, a revised and much enlarged edition appeared; and since that date various minor corrections and additions have from time to time been made. Now in 1910 I find that so many changes have taken place in the United States that a further complete revision has become necessary, and that some note ought to be taken of certain new phenomena in American politics and society. In this edition, accordingly, there have been introduced, sometimes in the text, sometimes in supplementary notes, concise descriptions of such phenomena.
Besides these corrections and additions, which do not affect the general plan, four new chapters have been added. One deals with the transmarine dominions of the United States acquired since 1888, a second with the hugh influx of immigrants who have been arriving from Central and Southern Europe, a third with the more recent phases of the Negro problem in the South, and a fourth with the remarkable development in late years of the American universities.
My friend, Mr. Seth Low, formerly mayor of New York, has been kind enough to rewrite the chapter on municipal government which he contributed to the first edition, and which contains matter of much interest relating to city government and city politics.
I am indebted to Professor Beard of Columbia University for information on several topics which I could not personally investigate. Besides the difficulties of selection and compression which attend any attempt to deal in two volumes with so vast a subject as that of this treatise, I have found in revising it a further difficulty in the fact that many political institutions in the United States, such as forms of city government, the party nominating machinery, and the methods of direct popular legislation, are at present in a transitory or experimental condition; the variations between one state and another growing more numerous with the emergence of new ideas and new schemes of reform. It would have been impossible to find space to describe these otherwise than in outline, even could I, under the heavy pressure of other duties, have found time to study all these things minutely. But an effort has been made to call attention to the more important among these new political arrangements, and to give in each case the most recent facts, though I am for obvious reasons precluded from adding comments on many of the facts which it is proper to state.
It was with some anxiety that I entered on this revision, fearing lest the hopeful spirit with which my observation of American institutions from 1870 to 1894 had inspired me might be damped by a close examination of their more recent phases. But all I have seen and heard during the last few years makes me more hopeful for the future of popular government. The forces working for good seem stronger today than they have been for the last three generations.
In the prefaces to the first and third editions I expressed my thanks to a large number of friends, American and English, who had helped me. Many of those to whom I was most indebted have now passed away. To those who happily remain I renew the expression of my gratitude, and am glad to thank also many others, too numerous to be all mentioned by name, in the United States, who have within the last few years helped me in a thousand ways towards acquiring a more thorough knowledge of their country.
I venture to take this opportunity of saying how deeply I appreciate the extraordinary kindness with which this attempt, made by one who was then, comparatively speaking, a stranger, to describe American institutions, has been received in the United States, and of which I have received so many proofs in travelling to and fro throughout the country.
October 22, 1910.