American Literature I

It starts with the Colonial Literature, which was basically pamphlets and writings extolling the benefits of the colonies to both a European and colonist audience, besides the religious disputes that prompted settlement in America.

Captain John Smith could be considered the first American author with his works: A True Relation of ... Virginia ... (1608) and The General Historie of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles (1624). Other writers of this manner included Daniel Denton, Thomas Ashe, William Penn, George Percy, William Strachey, John Hammond, Daniel Coxe, Gabriel Thomas, and John Lawson. Some poetry also existed with Anne Bradstreet and Edward Taylor and Michael Wigglesworth , who wrote a best-selling poem, The Day of Doom, describing the time of judgment the end of times.

Later, writings described conflicts and interaction with the Indians, as seen in writings by Daniel Gookin, Alexander Whitaker, John Mason, Benjamin Church, and Mary Rowlandson.

Then, there was the Great Awakening Group, made by protestants. Its writings were about religion, as most of them were calvinists and Puritans: Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield were important names, as Thomas Hooker, Thomas Shepard, Uriah Oakes, John Wise, and Samuel Willard.

The revolutionary period also contained political writings, most of them helped to build the American identity as a country. Two key figures were Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine. Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanac and The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin are esteemed works with their wit and influence toward the formation of a budding American identity. Paine's pamphlet Common Sense and The American Crisis writings are seen as playing a key role in influencing the political tone of the period.

During the revolution itself, poems and songs such as "Yankee Doodle" and "Nathan Hale" were popular. Major satirists included John Trumbull and Francis Hopkinson. Philip Morin Freneau also wrote poems about the war's course.

Students, be aware: just reading this will not make you know about Early American Literature. Click on the links, read the poems, write comments, TRY!

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