American History.

History of the United States and its predecessor colonies.

American Indian History has its own page, dealing with the history of American Indians and their relations with the European colonies and the United States. For history of Americans before Columbus, see Pre-Columbian.

Slavery in the United States has its own page, in which we hope to bring together a number of interesting original sources on both sides of the question (and here we use the word “question” in its loosest and most ironical sense).

Regional Histories have their own page.


A History of the United States of America; from the discovery of the continent by Christopher Columbus, to the present time. Embracing an account of the aboriginal tribes, their origin, population, employments, arts, dress, religion, government, &c.; together with sketches of the discoveries and settlements made by different nations… Accompanied with a map of the United States, and illustrated by forty-eight engravings. By Charles A. Goodrich. Hartford: H. F. Sumner & Co., 1833.

History of the United States, from their first settlement as colonies, to the close of the war with Great Britain in 1815. To which is added Questions, adapted to the use of schools. Keene, N. H.: J. and J. W. Prentiss, 1833. (Stereotyped by George B. Lothian, New-York.) The cover, which is barely legible from age and use (though the interior is in good shape), names this as “Hale’s Premium History.” This copy belongs to the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, and a typewritten note is stuck in the front:


The earlier biographies of Abraham Lincoln contain no mention of his having read a History of the United States. The Life of Lincoln by Ward Lamon, (page 37) includes a ‘History of the United States’ in a list of books read by Lincoln, but names no author.

The popularity of Goodrich’s U. S. History, which was in its third edition in 1824, led me to think it might be the one that Lincoln used, but new light on the matter is now given us by Beveridge, who has found among Herndon’s notes, now in the possession of Jesse Weik, a statement not used by either Lamon or Herndon, as follows:

“Notes 5. ‘Abe read I think Grimshaw’s History of the U(nited S(tates).’ Mrs. Moore’s statement. Weik MSS.”

Beveridge says: (page 73) “From some source and in some way he got hold of a copy of Grimshaw’s History of the United States.”

Now comes the information that a copy of “Hale’s Premium History of the United States” bearing Lincoln’s well known autograph, is owned by John S. Little of Rushville, Illinois. While this does not disprove the statement by Beveridge, it certainly gives positive evidence that Lincoln owned a copy of the work by Hale.

H. E. Barker


A Briefe and true Relation of the Discouerie of the North part of Virginia; being a most pleasant, fruitfull and commodious soile: Made this present yeere 1602, by captaine Bartholomew Gosnold, captaine Bartholowmew Gilbert, and diuers other gentlemen their associats, by the permission of the honourable knight, Sir Walter Ralegh, &c. Written by M. Iohn Brereton one of the voyage. Whereunto is annexed a Treatise, containing important inducements for the planting in those parts, and finding a passage that way to the South sea, and China, Written by M. Edward Hayes, a gentleman long since imploied in the like action. Londini, Impensis Geor. Bishop. 1602.
Second edition in the same year, “With divers instructions of speciall moment newly added in this second impression.”

Capt. John Smith, of Willoughby by Alford, Lincolnshire; President of Virginia, and Admiral of New England. Works. 1608–1631. Edited by Edward Arber. Brimingham: English Scholar’s Library, 1884. —984 pages, plus cxxxvi of introductory material.

New Englands First Fruits: In respect, first of the conversion of some, conviction of divers, preparation of sundry of the Indians. 2. Of the progresse of Learning, in the Colledge at Cambridge in Massacusets Bay. With divers other speciall Matters concerning that Countrey. Publisheds by the instant request of sundry Friends, who desire to be satisfied in these points by many New-England men who are here present, and were eye or eare-witnesses of the same. London: Printed by R. O. and G. D. for Henry Overton, and are to be sold at his shop in Popes-head-Alley. 1643.

A Short Story of the Rise, Reign, and Ruin of the Antinomians, Familists & Libertines, That Infected the Churches of New-England: And how they were confuted by the Assembly of Ministers there: As also of the Magistrates proceedings in Court against them. Together with Gods strange and remarkable judgements from Heaven upon some of the chief fomenters of these opinions; And the lamentable deathe of Mr. Hutchison. Very fit for these times; here being the same errours amongst us, and acted by the same spirit. Published at the instant request of sundry, by one that was an eye and ear-witnesse of the carriage of matters there [probably John Winthrop]. London: Printed for Ralph Smith at the signe of the Bible in Cornhill near the Royall Exchange. 1644.

The History and Present State of Virginia, in four parts. I. The history of the first settlement of Virginia, and the government thereof, to the present time. II. The natural productions and conveniencies of the country, suited to trade and improvement. III. The native Indians, their religion, laws, and customs, in war and peace. IV. The present state of the country, as to the polity of the government, and the improvements of the land. By a Native and Inhabitant of the Place. [Credited by the librarian to Robert Beverly.] London: R. Parker, 1705.

A Brief Description of New-York, formerly called New-Netherlands. With the places thereunto adjoyning. Together with the manner of its scituation, fertility of the soyle, healthfulness of the climate, and the commodities thence produced. Also some directions and advice to such as shall go thither: an account of what commodities they shall take with them; the profit and pleasure that may accrew to them thereby. Likewise a brief relation of the customs of the Indians there. By Daniel Denton. London: John Hancock, 1670.

An Account of Two Voyages to New-England. Wherein you have the setting out of a ship, with the charges; the prices of all necessaries for furnishing a planter and his family at his first coming; a description of the countrey, natives and creatures, with their merchantil and physical use; the government of the countrey as it is now possessed by the English, &c. A large chronological table of the most remarkable passages, from the first discovering of the continent of America, to the year 1673. By John Josselyn Gent. London: Giles Widdows, 1674.

A Demonstration of True Love unto You the Rulers of the Colony of the Massachusetts in New-England; shewing to you that are now in authority the unjust paths that your predecessors walked in, and of the Lord's dealings with them in his severe judgments, for persecuting his saints and children. Which may be a warning unto you, that you walk not in the same steps, lest you come under the same condemnation. Written by one who was once in Authority with them; but always testified against their persecuting Spirit, who am call’d William Coddington of Road-Island. Printed in the year 1674. [The name of the printer is torn off.]

The Present State of New-England, with Respect to the Indian War. Wherein is an account of the true reason thereof, (as far as can be judged by men). Together with most of the remarkable passages that have happened from the 20th of June, till the 30th of November, 1675. Faithfully compiled by a Merchant of Boston, and Communicated to his Friend in London. Licensed Decemb. 13, 1675. London: Dorman Newman, 1675.

Olden Time in New-York. By those who knew. [T. R. De Forest, according to the librarian.] New York: Anderson and Smith, 1833.

A School History of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1890, with a short introduction as to the origin of the race; also a short sketch of Liberia. By Edward A. Johnson. Revised edition, 1891. Raleigh: Edwards & Broughton, 1891.

“To the many thousand colored teachers in our country this book is dedicated. During my experience of eleven years as a teacher, I have often felt that the children of the race ought to study some work that would give them a little information on the many brave deeds and noble characters of their own race. I have often observed the sin of omission and commission on the part of white authors, most of whom seem to have written exclusively for white children, and studiously left out the many creditable deeds of the Negro. The general tone of most of the histories taught in our schools has been that of the inferiority of the Negro, whether actually said in so many words, or left to be implied from the highest laudation of the deeds of one race to the complete exclusion of those of the other. It must, indeed, be a stimulus to any people to be able to refer to their ancestors as distinguished in deeds of valor, and peculiarly so to the colored people. But how must the little colored child feel when he has completed the assigned course of U. S. History and in it found not one word of credit, not one word of favorable comment for even one among the millions of his foreparents, who have lived through nearly three centuries of his country’s history! The Negro is hardly given a passing notice in many of the histories taught in the schools; he is credited with no heritage of valor; he is mentioned only as a slave, while true historical records prove him to have been among the most patriotic of patriots, among the bravest of soldiers, and constantly a God-fearing, faithful producer of the nation's wealth. Though a slave to this government, his was the first blood shed in its defence in those days when a foreign foe threatened its destruction. In each of the American wars the Negro was faithful—yes, faithful to a land not his own in point of rights and freedom, but, indeed, a land that, after he had shouldered his musket to defend, rewarded him with a renewed term of slavery. Patriotism and valor under such circumstances possess a peculiar merit and beauty. But such is the truth of history; and may I not hope that the study of this little work by the boys and girls of the race will inspire in them a new self-respect and confidence? Much, of course, will depend on you, dear teachers, into whose hands I hope to place this book. By your efforts, and those of the children, you are to teach from the truth of history that complexions do not govern patriotism, valor, and sterling integrity.”

American Revolution.

The American Revolution: Written in Scriptural, or Ancient Historical Style. By Richard Snowden. Baltimore: W. Pechin, [1802]. —Bound with the same author’s Columbiad; or a Poem on the American War, in Thirteen Cantoes.

The Sexagenary, or Reminiscences of the American Revolution. Albany: Published by W. C. Little and O. Steele. Printed by R. Martin and Co. 1833.

“This is the veritable production of a Farmer of Saratoga county, whose memory outlives his better days. It was undertaken at the suggestion of the late Governor De Witt Clinton, who recommended to the Editor of this volume to prepare it for the press. The greater part has appeared from time to time in the columns of the Albany Daily Advertiser, but at such distant intervals as to lose its hold, upon the reader who might have even been interested in the narrative. It now appears in a convenient shape; and as the profits of the sale will be applied to the use of the individual who furnished the materials, it is hoped that the public will look favorably on the work.”

Below that Advertisement is a handwritten note:

“In consequence of the manner in which this book was printed, and the neglect of the proof reader, it had been withdrawn from the Bookseller.”

New York City During the American Revolution. Being a collection of original papers (now first published) from the manuscripts in the possession of the Mercantile Library Association, of New York City. Privately printed for the Association, 1861.
Another copy.

Western Explorations.

A Journal of the Voyages and Travels of a Corps of Discovery, Under the Command of Capt. Lewis and Capt. Clarke of the Army of the United States. By Patrick Gass, one of the persons employed in the expedition. Pittsburgh: Printed by Zadok Cramer for David M’Meehan, Publisher and Proprietor, 1807. —The first published journal of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and a good sample of Zadok Cramer’s printing work in Pittsburgh.
A better scan at

Sketches of a Tour to the Western Country, through the states of Ohio and Kentucky, a voyage down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and a trip through the Mississippi territory, and part of West Florida, commenced at Philadelphia in the winter of 1807, and concluded in 1809. By F. Cuming (Fortescue Cuming). Pittsburgh: Cramer, Spear & Eichbaum, Franklin Head Bookstore, 1810.

Indian Wars.

Life of Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak or Black Hawk. With an account of the cause and general history of the late war, his surrender and confinement at Jefferson Barracks, and travels through the United States. Dictated by himself. J. B. Patterson, of Rock Island, Ill., Editor and Proprietor. Boston: Russell, Odiorne & Metcalf, 1834.

Other Aspects of History.

A Short History of Paper-Money and Banking in the United States, including an account of provincial and continental paper-money. To which is prefixed, An inquiry into the principles of the system, with considerations of its effects on Morals and Happiness. The whole intended as a plain exposition of the way in which paper money and money corporations, affect the interests of different portions of the community. By William M. Gouge. Philadelphia: Printed by T. W. Ustick, 1833.
Second edition, 1835, stereotyped in two columns. (It is not clear that it has been otherwise revised.)