American History Told by Contemporaries


A Good Library of Sources

FOR an intelligent study of the political history of the United States, the first necessity is access to the most important government records. Exact titles of these publications are found in Channing and Hart’s Guide, § 30. Odd volumes and partial sets are common and may be very useful.


1790–1854. B. R. Curtis, Reports of Decisions in the Supreme Court of the United States; with Notes and a Digest. 22 vols. Boston, 1881.—Condensed reports.

1855–1862. Samuel F. Miller, Reports of Decisions in the Supreme Court of the United States. 4 vols. Washington, 1874–1875.—Condensed reports, in continuation of Curtis.

1863–1874. John William Wallace, Cases Argued and Adjudged. 23 vols. Washington, 1870–1876.

1875–1882. William T. Otto, Cases Argued and Adjudged. 17 vols. Boston, 1876–1883.—Also bears the title, United States Reports, Supreme Court, Vols. 91–107.

1882–1899. J. C. Bancroft Davis, United States Reports. Vols. 108–178. 71 vols. New York, etc., 1884–1900.

1791–1897. Official Opinions of the Attorneys-General of the United States. 21 vols. Washington, 1852–1898.

1833–1873. United States, Congressional Globe: containing Sketches of the Debates and Proceedings. 109 vols. Washington, 1835–1873.—Contains the debates from 1833 on.

1789–1900. United States, Statutes at Large. 31 vols. Boston, etc., 1850–1900.—The official text of statutes from 1789 to 1900.

1789–1897. United States, A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents. 10 vols. Washington, 1896–1899.—A valuable official publication, poorly edited by James D. Richardson, containing all the presidents’ messages and proclamations except nominations for office. Sold by the government at cost.

1873–1900. United States, Congressional Record. 34 vols. Washington, 1873–1901.—Official reports of debates.


In comparison with earlier times, the period after 1845 is very deficient in materials of this kind, except during the Civil War.

[Thomas Hart Benton], Thirty Years’ View; or, A History of the Working of the American Government for Thirty Years, from 1820 to 1850. 2 vols. New York, etc., 1854–1856.

James G. Blaine, Twenty Years of Congress [1861–1881]. 2 vols. Norwich, Conn., 1884–1886.

[James Buchanan], Mr. Buchanan’s Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion. New York, 1866.

F[rancis] B[icknell] Carpenter, Six Months at the White House with Abraham Lincoln. New York, 1866.

L[ucius] E[ugene] Chittenden, Personal Reminiscences, 1840–1890, including some not hitherto published of Lincoln and the War. New York, 1893.

James Freeman Clarke, Anti-Slavery Days. New York, 1884.

Reuben Davis, Recollections of Mississippi and Mississippians. Boston, etc., 1891.

U[lysses] S. Grant, Personal Memoirs. 2 vols. New York, 1885–1886.

Horace Greeley, Recollections of a Busy Life. New York, etc., 1868.

Joseph E. Johnston, Narrative of Military Operations during the Late War between the States. New York, 1874.

George W. Julian, Political Recollections, 1840 to 1872. Chicago, 1884.

James Longstreet, From Manassas to Appomattox; Memoirs of the Civil War in America. Philadelphia, 1896.

A.K. McClure, Abraham Lincoln and Men of War Times. Philadelphia, 1892.

Hugh McCulloch, Men and Measures of Half a Century; Sketches and Comments. New York, 1888.

Samuel J[oseph] May, Some Recollections of our Antislavery Conflict. Boston, 1869.

Frederick Law Olmsted, The Cotton Kingdom. 2 vols. New York, ete., 1861.

William Howard Russell, My Diary North and South [1861]. 2 vols. London, 1863.

William H. Seward, Autobiography, from 1801 to 1834, with a Memoir of his Life. (Edited by F. W. Seward.) New York, 1877.

P[hilip] H. Sheridan, Personal Memoirs. 2 vols. New York, 1888.

John Sherman, Recollections of Forty Years in the House, Senate, and Cabinet. 2 vols. Chicago, etc., 1895.

William T[ecumseh] Sherman, Memoirs. By himself. 2 vols. New York, 1875.

John Sherman and William Tecumseh Sherman, Letters. (Edited by Rachel Sherman Thorndike.) New York, 1894.

Alexander H. Stephens, A Constitutional View of the Late War between the States. 2 vols. Philadelphia, etc. [1868–1870].

Thurlow Weed, Autobiography. (Edited by Harriet A. Weed.) Boston, etc., 1884.


Books of foreign travels are not so numerous or important as earlier in our history. A long list will be found in Channing and Hart’s Guide, § 24. The following are of special importance:—

Isabella Bird, The Englishwoman in America. London, 1856.

Paul Bourget, Outre-Mer; Impressions of America [1893–1894]. New York, 1895.

Fredrika Bremer, The Homes of the New World; Impressions of America [1849–1851]. (Translated by Mary Howitt.) 2 vols. New York, 1853.

William Chambers, Things as they are in America [1853]. London, etc, 1854.

Emily Faithfull, Three Visits to America [1872, 1882, 1884]. Edinburgh, 1884.

George A. McCall, Letters from the Frontier. Written during a Period of Thirty Years’ Service in the United States Army. Philadelphia, 1868.

Anthony Trollope, North America [1861–1862]. New York, 1862.

Charles Dudley Warner, Studies in the South and West, with Comments an Canada. New York, 1889.


George S. Boutwell, Speeches and Papers relating to the Rebellion and the Overthrow of Slavery. Boston, 1867.

Rufus Choate, Works. (Edited by S. G. Brown.) 2 vols. Boston, 1862.

George William Curtis, Orations and Addresses. (Edited by C. E. Norton.) 3 vols. New York, 1894.

John A. Dix, Speeches and Occasional Addresses. 2 vols. New York, 1864.

Joshua R. Giddings, Speeches in Congress. Boston, etc., 1853.

Abraham Lincoln, Complete Works. (Edited by John G. Nicolay and John Hay.) 2 vols. New York, 1894.

William H. Seward, Works. (Edited by G. E. Baker.) 5 vols. New York, etc., 1853–1884.

Charles Sumner, Works. 15 vols. Boston, 1875–1883.

Samuel J. Tilden, Writings and Speeches. (Edited by John Bigelow.) 2 vols. New York, 1885.


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Chicago: "A Good Library of Sources," American History Told by Contemporaries in American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. Albert Bushnell Hart (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1903), Original Sources, accessed July 19, 2019,

MLA: . "A Good Library of Sources." American History Told by Contemporaries, in American History Told by Contemporaries, edited by Albert Bushnell Hart, Vol. 4, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1903, Original Sources. 19 Jul. 2019.

Harvard: , 'A Good Library of Sources' in American History Told by Contemporaries. cited in 1903, American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. , The Macmillan Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 19 July 2019, from