THIS little book is an attempt to provide for the grades a suitable text on the European background of American history. The subject matter is of course suggested very largely by the Report of the Committee of Eight of the American Historical Association on the Study of History in Elementary Schools. In endeavoring to work out a plan based on the suggestions of this report, however, the authors have felt very keenly that while the "letter killeth, the spirit giveth life." Our object has been to provide a narrative which will make the past live and, while omitting nothing essential, hold the interest of children in the grades. We must rest our case largely on our ability to "spin a good yarn."
As the limitations of the present curriculum are such that no other opportunity is offered in the elementary school for the study of the development of Europe, we have tried, in this little volume, to trace the chain of circumstances leading to the colonization of America, and further, to give some notion of a few of the chief landmarks in the development of world- civilization.
Because our book is for children the picture presented is necessarily in very broad outline. We have endeavored not to fail in the matter of accuracy. Yet we feel that many details of interest to mature students can have no place here. The consideration of such things as the tactics of the Persians at Marathon or the question as to how far Simon de Montfort was actually the founder of the House of Commons must be deferred for the student’s later investigation. We hope that our young readers will some day wish to know all about these matters.
In adding a brief chapter on Egypt and the Oriental nations we have kept within the spirit of the report of the Committee of Eight. This supplementary material is ndt specifically required by that report, and it may be omitted without great detriment to the rest of the book. Its insertion, however, will give a glimpse at those earlier civilizations which form a background for much that follows.
The authors’ close association during many years has, we trust, enabled them to work for a common object and to avoid some of the evils of mixed workmanship. It should be stated that Mr. Mace is author of that part of the book treating of the rise of the modern nations, and the discoverers; and Mr. Tanner of the account of the ancient and the medieval world.
Our thanks are due to our colleagues, Doctors H. L. Cleasby and A. W. Lauber, for reading the first part of the manuscript and for valuable advice. We have also obtained important suggestions from a study of earlier textbooks in our field.
The book concludes with what in history textbooks too often receives but scant and summary treatment — the relations of our country with the older nations across the seas; and it also devotes a final chapter to the dramatic story of America’s part in the great World War.
W. H. M.
© 2000 by Lynn Waterman