European Treaties bearing on the History of the United States and its Dependencies to 1648/Preface


The colonial dependence of the American settlements upon various European governments brings it about, as a necessary consequence, that several of the treaties between European governments, and several of the bulls issued by the popes in virtue of their powers of international regulation, are fundamental documents for some of the earlier portions of American history. Other treaties, or individual articles in treaties, of the period before independence, though not of fundamental importance to that history, have affected it in greater or less degree. In the period since the United States became independent, though the treaties most important to their history have been those made by their own government, not a few of the treaties concluded between European powers have had an influential bearing on the course of their development and their public action.

Taken altogether, therefore, European treaties, and the earlier papal bulls, form an important portion of the original material for American history. Yet access to authentic and exact texts of them is far from easy. In a few cases, as the researches made for this volume have shown, they do not exist in print. Of those which have been printed, there are many which the student cannot possess except by buying several large and expensive series of volumes; and there are some which, though existing in print, are not to be found in these series, but in volumes which have escaped the attention of most students of American history.

In view of these considerations, it was a natural thought, to a department of historical research in an endowed institution, to serve the interests of historical scholars and of libraries by bringing together in one collection those treaties and parts of treaties, between European powers, which have a bearing on the history of the United States and of the lands now within their area or under their government as dependencies. Of this task, the first-fruits are presented in this volume, extending through the Treaty of Westphalia, 1648. The second volume, embracing treaties from that date to 1713, the date of the Treaties of Utrecht, is in preparation.

Extraordinary pains have been taken by Dr. Davenport to find, in European archives, all the treaties and articles which her volume, as defined in her introduction, ought to contain, and to secure perfect accuracy in texts. The index has been made by Mr. David M. Matteson.

J. Franklin Jameson.

Washington, October 13, 1917.