THE writer trusts that he may be pardoned for relating the following characteristic anecdote of President Lincoln,
as it so fully illustrates the object in view in writing these histories. In a conversation which the writer
had with the President just before his death, Mr. Lincoln said:
"I want to thank you and your brother for Abbotts' series of Histories. I have not education enough to
appreciate the profound works of voluminous historians, and if I had, I have no time to read them. But your
series of Histories gives me, in brief compass, just that knowledge of past men and events which I need.
I have read them with the greatest interest. To them I am indebted for about all the historical knowledge I have."
It is for just this purpose that these Histories are written. Busy men, in this busy life, have now no
time to wade through ponderous folios. And yet every one wishes to know the general character and
achievements of the illustrious personages of past ages.
A few years ago there was published in Paris a life of King Joseph, in ten royal octavo volumes of
nearly five hundred pages each. It was entitled "Memoires et Correspondance, Politique et Militaire,
du Roi Joseph, Publiés, Annotés et Mis en Ordre par A. du Casse, Aide de-camp de S. A. I. Le Prince
Jerome Napoleon." These volumes contained nearly all the correspondence which passed between
Joseph and his brother Napoleon from their childhood until after the battle of Waterloo. Every
historical statement is substantiated by unequivocal documentary evidence.
From this voluminous work, aided by other historical accounts of particular events, the author of
this sketch has gathered all that would be of particular interest to the general reader at the
present time. As all the facts contained in this narrative are substantiated by ample documentary
proof, the writer can not doubt that this volume presents an accurate account of the momentous
scenes which it describes, and that it gives the reader a correct idea of the social and political
relations existing between those extraordinary men, Joseph and Napoleon Bonaparte. It is not
necessary that the historian should pronounce judgment upon every transaction. But he is bound to
state every event exactly as it occurred.
No one can read this account of the struggle in Europe in favor of popular rights against
the old dynasties of feudal oppression, without, more highly appreciating the admirable
institutions of our own glorious Republic. Neither can any intelligent and candid man carefully
peruse this narrative, and not admit that Joseph Bonaparte was earnestly seeking the welfare of
the people; that, surrounded by dynasties strong in standing armies, in pride of nobility,
and which were venerable through a life of centuries, he was endeavoring to promote, under monarchical
forms, which the posture of affairs seemed to render necessary, the abolition of aristocratic
usurpation, and the establishment of equal rights for all men. Believing this, the writer
sympathizes with him in all his struggles, and reveres his memory. The universal brotherhood of man,
the fundamental principles of Christianity, should also be the fundamental principles in the State.
Having spared no pains to be accurate, the writer will be grateful to any critic who will point out
any incorrectness of statement or false coloring of facts, that he may make the correction in
This volume will soon be followed by another, The History of Queen Hortense, the daughter of
Josephine, the wife of King Louis, the mother of Napoleon III.
JOHN S.C. ABBOTT
Fair haven, Conn., May, 1869.