History of the Late War between Great Britain and the United States by David Thompson: Preface
Although many books have been circulated throughout the continent of America, purporting to be histories of the late war between Great Britain and the United States, it must be acknowledged that none has yet appeared, in the British North American Colonies, which could be considered as generally authentic. Whatever other causes may have existed to which such a total want of veracity may be ascribed, there is little doubt but a strong desire on the part of the authors to place every circumstance regarding that contest in a favorable point of view as respected their own country, leaving the adverse party as far in the shade as possible, constituted the most prominent—a propensity confessedly to which, American writers, on this topic, have betrayed themselves uncommonly subject. It may, therefore, be fairly presumed, that an apology for the appearance of the following sheets would be quite superfluous.
A faithful and impartial account of tic late war, with a review of the causes from whence it originated, must be hailed with the most exalted enthusiasm by all who can boast the name of a Briton, and are worthy of the title. In such a work, generations yet unborn will trace the footsteps of their ancestors in that glorious struggle for the salvation of their country, and emulate their virtuous example, should they ever be called upon for that purpose.
But in the following detail of the events of the war, the present generation, the majority of whom bore so conspicuous a part, will be enabled to review the terrific glories of those fields of blood and carnage : the widow and the fatherless will survey the transcendant achievements of their husbands and their fathers, and, in ecstasies of triumph, like the sun shedding forth his radient beams after being obscured for a while by a dense cloud, will smile through their tears. Our British youths, too, whose minds have been endangered by the poisoned shafts of designing malevolence which have been every where discharged through the country, by the many erroneous accounts of the late war with the causes which led to it that have been hitherto published—in perusing a true statement of those events, they will catch that patriotic flame which glowed with an unequalled resplendence in the bosoms of their fathers, and animated to action that noble few who stepped forward to oppose a relentless enemy invading their hitherto peaceful fire sides, and evinced a willingness to endure every privation incidental to the "tented field," in defence of their King, their laws and their country.
That these momentous objects might be fully consummated, the writer has spared no expense to collect the most authentic materials for the work, neither has he shrunk from any labor (however arduous,) that might contribute thereto: official documents, periodicals and volumes of historical matter on the subject, from both the countries interested, which were marked for settled integrity, have been studiously consulted; and in addition to all this, together with the author's personal knowledge of most of the transactions detailed, he has acquired much information on the subject from persons of unquestionable veracity who were present on the field of action in several engagements during that straggle.
As regards talent, in the execution of this work, the writer would beg leave to say, that to such he disclaims all pretensions. The humble sphere in which he has moved did not probably afford any of those bright and flowery avenues to the temple of literature to which many more fortunate individuals have had access: his primary aim, through the whole, has been the acquisition of truth to lay before his readers—for this he has incessantly labored, and which he flatters himself he has so far accomplished that a candid and generous public will indulgently overlook every other imperfection; he only laments that a more competent hand had not ere, this period, taken up the subject.
Niagara, April, 1832.