History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Life and Times of
Sir William Johnson, Bart.,
by William L. Stone
Albany: J. Munsell, 78 State Street, 1865.
IT may not be generally known that my father, the late William L. Stone, Esq., commenced a history of the LIFE AND TIMES OF SIR WILLIAM JOHNSON, BART. He had employed several years in collecting the materials for this work, and had written the first seven chapters of it, when death cut short his labors in 1844. Esteeming it a sacred duty, I have completed the work; and in so doing, have endeavored to carry out, as far as possible, his original design. The result is before the reader.
Perhaps the character of no man prominent in our colonial history has been less understood, and less fairly judged, than that of SIR WILLIAM JOHNSON, BART. His death occurred just on the eve of the Revolutionary war; and the troublous times which followed, and the immediate removal of his private papers, by his son, Sir John Johnson, into Canada, prevented any trustworthy estimate either of the man or of his services. As a natural consequence, the innumerable wild and improbable traditions afloat concerning him, have been eagerly seized and believed as veritable history. It was therefore evident, that until access would be had to his papers and private correspondence, it would be impossible to prepare a faithful and accurate biography of him. After years of search, myfather procured from the Johnson family in England, and from various other sources, a large portion of Sir William's manuscripts, which, with the collection of the Johnson MSS. presented to the New York State Library by General John Tayler Cooper, amounts to more than seven thousand letters and documents. Although many letters are evidently lost, yet enough remain to answer the purpose of the present work while the original records of Indian treaties and conferences, of which nearly all are in existence, afford a sure test of the accuracy of their relation.
Of this large collection, I have read and carefully compared each letter and document; and throughout the work have made abundant reference to authorities, in order that whoever desires may avail himself of the same sources of information.
To Hon. Jared Sparks of Cambridge, Hon. George Bancroft of New York, Francis Parkman, Esq., of Boston, Professor Robinson P. Dunn of Brown University, and Edward P. De Lancey, Esq., of New York, I am indebted for counsel and material aid. My thanks are also due to Anthony Lamb, Esq., of Cambridge, Doctor O'Callaghan of Albany, Dr. B. L. Allen, Hon. Judge Hay; and Daniel Sheppard, Esq. of Saratoga Springs, for valuable suggestions. Nor must I forget to make special mention of the kindness of the Regents and Librarians of the New York State University and Library, in affording me every facility for examining the books and original documents under their control. To Thomas Simons, Esq., of Albany, and Elnathan Judson, Esq., of New York, I am truly grateful for assistance in copying many pages of manuscript.
In conclusion I may add, that in the preparation of this work,
I have made no statement, and drawn no inference, that I did not conscientiously
believe was fully warranted by the original authorities to which I have had
WILLIAM L. STONE.
Saratoga Springs, January 1st., 1865.
Thanks to James F. Morrison for loaning his book for the purpose of putting it on the internet.
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