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PRIE FA C E .
DURING the Presidential canvass of 1864, the author of this work prepared for its publishers a volume upon the Administration of President Lincoln. Its main object was to afford the American people the materials for forming an intelligent judgment as to the wisdom of continuing Mr. Lincoln, for four years more, in the Presidential office.
That canvass resulted in his re-election. But he had scarcely entered upon the duties and responsibilities of his second term, when his career was closed by assassination. He had lived long enough, however, to finish the great work which had devolved upon him. Before his eyes were closed, they beheld the overthrow of the rebellion, the extirpation of slavery, and the restoration, over all the land, of the authority of the Constitution of the United States.
Not the people of his own country alone, but all the world, will study with interest the life and public acts of one whose work was at once so great and so successful. The principles which guided his conduct, and the policy by which he sought to carry them out— the temper and character which were the secret sources of his strength—will be sought and found in the acts and words of his public life. For more truly, perhaps, than any other man of his own or of any other time, Mr. Lincoln had but one character and one mode of action, in public and private affairs. It is the purpose of this work, so far as possible, to facilitate this inquiry. Every public speech, message, letter, or document of any sort from his pen, so far as accessible, will be found included in its pages. These documents, with the narrative by which they are accompanied, may, it is hoped, aid the public in understanding aright the character and conduct of the most illustrious actor, in the most important era, of American history.