PREFACE. 7

   There was formerly among all nations, as well christian as pagan, a great diversity not only with regard to the commencement of the year, some adopting the autumnal and some the vernal equinox, some the winter and some the summer solstice, and others other periods of the year; but also as to the epochs of the different eras, as the creation of the world, the deluge, the call of Abraham, and the departure of the Israelites out of Egypt, in sacred chronology, and the destruction of Troy, the building of Rome and other events, adopted among the ancient and eastern nations.   There seemed to be no specific common standard.

   When the computation of time by the Christian era commenced, which was about the year 527, the year was made to commence on the 25th of March, supposed to be the day of the Annunciation of the Incarnation of Christ.   This, known now by the name of the Old Style, continued in England and throughout all her dominions till 1752, when by an Act of Parliament eleven days were stricken from the month of September, calling the 3d the 14th, and one day added to February every 4th year, herein conforming to other nations, several of whom on the continent had, about 1582, adopted this computation, for the purpose of correcting the error occasioned by the precession of the equinoxes; and by the same act the 1st day of January instead of the 25th of March was also established as the commencement of the year.   In the interim, between the time of its adoption by other nations and 1752, when England adopted it, double dating from January 1st to March 25th was frequently practised in England and her Colonies in order to correspond with the computation of the continent.   Thus, for instance, February 8th, 1720-21, or 1720-1 was substituted for simply February 8, 1721, the last number being the true date, and if omitted might occasion an error of a year.   This has been called the Gregorian year (Pope Gregory 13th having established it in 1582), or New Style, and is very necessary to be known and observed by all when consulting ancient dates and records.   In this work, ancient dates are generally made to conform to the New Style, double dating being rejected.

NAHUM MITCHELL.     

   BOSTON, MAY 7TH, 1840.

 

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