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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1836,
BY KEY AND BIDDLE, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Pennsylvania.
No apology can be required for presenting to the American public a volume of Speeches selected from the best efforts of their own statesmen. Public discussion is elsewhere the province of a few; in our country, it is the duty of almost all. It is not only desirable, therefore, but absolutely necessary, that all should have at hand those models, which the peculiar character of our institutions, the tone of our national thought, and the exigencies of our history, have combined to produce. Foreign orators may serve as examples of style, but the inhabitants of a republic must seek at home for the intellectual results of the government they have chosen, and for the illustration of those principles by which it is to be sustained. If they cannot always find the same refinement of language, or the same elaborateness of thought, which in older countries is the result of hereditary wealth and more scholastic education, they will discover at least a vigorous and masculine diction, patriotic sentiments, and unflinching independence, the appropriate attendants upon themes for the most part grave, and frequently severe.
The editor does not affect to have used any extraordinary research in the compilation now presented to the reader. The character of the subjects discussed has had great influence with him in the selections he has made. For many years past, the newspaper press has carried the opinions expressed in congress to every man's door. Those distinguished by uncommon force, dignity, and ability, have been received with eagerness and read with attention. Public sentiment has supplied the imprimatur, therefore, under which the present volume appears. It was, at one time, the hope of the publishers to present a collection of revolutionary speeches; but the attempt was given up in despair. Those Sibylline leaves have long been scattered to the winds. The fervid addresses which roused our forefathers to action, did their brief business successfully; but the soldiers they made had no time to be chroniclers. The old congress, it is believed, employed no reporters; the fame of their eloquence is therefore but traditionary:
“ Vixere fortes ante Agamemnona
Nocte, carent quia vate sacro." It is to be presumed, however, that many of their sentiments, though the language in which they were clothed is irretrievably lost, may be sought successfully in the following pages. There are names upon them that have never yet disgraced their revolutionary pred