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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1860, by
EZKA B. CHASE,
In the Clerk's Offlce of the District Court of the United States, in and for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
In compiling the following pages, I have not been influenced by partisan purposes; neither have I compiled them for the notoriety of having my name appended to a book. The country is sufficiently flooded already with partisan literature—books written for political advantage, or pecuniary gain, or both. To such authorship I do not aspire. If I have cherished an ambition in reference to this work, it has been an ambition to place before the people information upon the subject that is now agitating the country, upon which they can rely,—the views and opinions of those distinguished patriots and statesmen who formed the government, and whose intentions and principles should be heeded and carried out, if we would preserve it from disruption and decay. This information, or most of it, has hitherto been locked up ill scores of huge Congressional volumes, entirely inaccessible to the general mass of readers; or if, by chance or otherwise, accessible, requiring so much time and research as to render it comparatively valueless. I believe the most that the people—the voters—of this country desire, in reference to the question of slavery, is, to know, from an authentic source, what the framers of the Constitution meant to do with it; what relation they meant the government should hold to the institution, if any; and that, knowing this, regardless of the selfishness and fanaticism of politicians, north or south, east or west, they will steadily pursue the path marked out by their fathers, and perpetuate the principles of Constitutional liberty with every energy and effort in their power. That there need be no mistake in this matter, I have commenced this compilation with the debates in the congress of the confederation, the first form of a national government adopted by the colonies after the declaration of independence. These "Notes " were kept by Thomas Jefferson. They are meagre, it is true, as are all the debates of those times, for stenography was then un