The study of history, like the study of a landscape, should begin
with the most conspicuous features. Not until these have been fixed in
memory will the lesser features fall into their appropriate places and
assume their right proportions.
The famous men of ancient and modern times are the mountain
peaks of history. It is logical then that the study of history
should begin with the biographies of these men.
Not only is it logical; it is also pedagogical.
Experience has proven that in order to attract and hold
the child's attention each conspicuous feature of history
presented to him should have an individual for its center.
The child identifies himself with the personage presented.
It is not Romulus or Hercules or Cæsar or Alexander
that the child has in mind when he reads, but himself,
acting under similar conditions.
Prominent educators, appreciating these truths, have long recognized
the value of biography as a preparation for the study of history
and have given it an important place in their scheme of studies.
The former practice in many elementary schools of beginning the
detailed study of American history without any previous knowledge
of general history limited the pupil's range of vision,
restricted his sympathies, and left him without material for comparisons.
Moreover, it denied to him a knowledge of his inheritance
from the Greek philosopher, the Roman lawgiver, the Teutonic
lover of freedom. Hence the recommendation so strongly urged
in the report of the
 Committee of Ten—and emphasized, also, in the report of
the Committee of Fifteen—that the study of Greek,
Roman and modern European history in the form of biography should
precede the study of detailed American history in our
elementary schools. The Committee of Ten recommends
an eight years' course in history, beginning with the fifth year
in school and continuing to the end of the high school course.
The first two years of this course are given wholly to the study
of biography and mythology. The Committee of Fifteen recommends
that history be taught in all the grades of the elementary school
and emphasizes the value of biography and of general history.
The series of historical stories to which this volume belongs
was prepared in conformity with the foregoing recommendations
and with the best practice of leading schools. It has been the aim
of the authors to make an interesting story of each man's life
and to tell those stories in a style so simple
that pupils in the lower grades will read them with pleasure,
and so dignified that they may be used with profit as text-books
Teachers who find it impracticable to give to the study
of mythology and biography a place of its own in an already
overcrowded curriculum usually prefer to correlate history with
reading and for this purpose the volumes of this series
will be found most desirable.
The value of the illustrations can scarcely be over-estimated.
They will be found to surpass in number and excellence anything
heretofore offered in a school-book. For the most part they are
reproductions of world-famous pictures, and for that reason
the artists' names are generally affixed.