The design of The American Cyclopaedia, then, as it was that of the origi-nal work on which it is founded, is to furnish a condensed exhibition of the present state of human knowledge on the most important subjects of inquiry. The discussion of the controverted points of science, philosophy, religion, or politics does not enter within its plan; but it aims exclusively at an accurate and impartial account of the development of opinion in the exercise of thought, of the results of investigation in every department of science, of the prominent events in the history of the world, of the most significant productions of literature and art, and of the celebrated individuals whose names are associated with the phenomena of their age.

In preparing the materials of the work, neither the editors nor their collaborators have attempted to make it a vehicle for the expression of personal notions. As far as was consistent with the nature of the case, they have confined themselves to the historical relation of facts, without assuming the function of advocates or judges. In instances which seemed to demand a positive verdict, they have endeavored to present an illustration of evidence rather than an exhibition of argument. Each subject has been treated in the point of view of those with whom it is a specialty, and not in that of indifferent or hostile observers. In order to secure the most complete justice in this respect, the various articles in the work have been intrusted, as far as possible, to writers whose studies, position, opinions, and tastes were a guarantee of their thorough information, and furnished a presumption of their fairness and impartiality.

In a work primarily intended for popular instruction and entertainment, it is obvious that elaborate treatises on the subjects which are brought forward in its pages would be inappropriate. Hence no attempt has been made to furnish the masters of literature and science with new facts or principles in their peculiar branches of study. On the contrary, the editors have only sought to present such selections from the universal treasury of knowledge as will place the cultivators of one department of research in possession of the achievements of other departments, and especially to spread before the great mass of intelligent readers a faithful report of the opinions, systems, discoveries, events, actions, and characters that make up the history of the world.

A popular method, however, has not been pursued at the expense of thoroughness of research and copiousness of statement in regard to topics which seemed to demand a more extended treatment. Ample space has been allotted to articles of this character, especially on subjects connected with modern scientific discoveries, mechanical and industrial inventions, the principles of physiology and hygiene, and American and European history, biography, and geography. Several of our titles in those divisions are treated with a fulness of detail, and present a variety as well as an exactness of information, which it is believed will entitle them to the rank of standard authorities.

While the brevity that has been observed on points of secondary interest has enabled the editors to give a greater number of titles than is usual in productions of similar intent, they have rigidly excluded those which would increase the size of the work without enhancing its value. The terms which require only the common dictionary definitions, and the proper names which till an unimportant place in gazetteers and biographical dictionaries, have been rejected on system.

The materials which have served as a foundation for the work have been derived from a great variety of sources. Besides the standard works on special subjects, scientific, literary, or historical, the numerous encyclopaedias, dictionaries of the various branches of study, and popular conversations-lexicons, in which the literature of the last quarter of a century is so singularly rich, have been diligently consulted and compared. Their contributions to the common stock of knowledge have furnished many valuable facts, statements, and suggestions; while recent biographies, histories, books of travel, scientific treatises, statistical reports, and the current journals and periodical literature of the day have been put in constant requisition, and their contents carefully digested and utilized.

A great mass of important information has been derived from consultation with practical men in different branches of manufactures and other industrial processes; public officials have liberally supplied us with data from their archives; the representatives of science have imparted to us the results of their experience; the constructors of great works of internal improvement now in progress have favored us with the explanation of their methods and plans; the journalists throughout the country have promptly responded to our request for facts in their respective localities; while many of the writers employed upon the work have enriched it with the fruit of their personal researches, observations, and discoveries in the branches of learning in which their names have attained an honorable distinction.

The editors of this Cyclopaedia are unwilling that the first volume of the new edition should pass from their hands without a distinct expression of their obligations to their staff of revisers, to their corps of regular contributors, and to the numerous men of eminence in science, literature, and official position, whose effective cooperation has lightened their own labors, and laid the foundation for the utility and value of the publication.

The volume now presented to the public may be regarded as an earnest of the literary and typographical execution of the whole work. It will be completed mainly by the same writers whose contributions are contained in the first edition, together with many ethers of equal ability (whose names will be hereafter announced), and will be made to pass through the press as rapidly as is consistent with mechanical accuracy.

New York, July 4, 1873.