From the PREFACE.
When Burk undertook to write A History of Virginia, such a work was a desideratum. There were then several histories of detached periods, but there was no one comprehensive history of the state. There were in existence many valuable historical documents and materials, which as yet had lain unnoticed and neglected. The time when Burk undertook the task was opportune: the country had now recovered, in great measure, from the calamities of the revolutionary war, and its exasperations had subsided, and many readers now had both leisure and inclination to take a more deliberate retrospect of the past. It was time that there should be written a history of the state, which had given birth to Henry and Lewis, and Nelson and Mason, and Jefferson and Madison, and the Lees and Washington.
Smith's General History is the ground work of all succeeding histories of Virginia, as his map is the prototype of all succeeding maps of Virginia. The second and sixth books of his history were composed by Smith himself; the third was compiled by the Rev. William Simons, doctor of divinity, and the rest of the work by Smith, from the letters and journals of about thirty different writers.
The Rev. William Stith, a native of Virginia, married a sister of Sir John Randolph, and was some time president of William and Mary College. He composed his History of Virginiaat Varina, on the James river. It was published in 1747, and entitled A History of the Discovery and Settlement of Virginia, to the year 1624. He was a classical scholar, a true patriot, and a most faithful chronicler. His work is, in the main, a digest of the miscellaneous documents published by Smith, to which is added an account of the proceedings of the London company, in the management of the colony. It is a subject of regret, that this honest, accurate and judicious historian did not receive encouragement enough, to induce him to complete his excellent work down to his own times. He died in 1755....
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