American History

A literary perspective

Declaration of Independence draft
American History is rich with literary artifacts; beyond novels, short stories and essays, the American trail was blazed with story-telling, poetry, political speeches, folk songs and letters. The young country struggled first for freedom, then to define itself and even -- during the civil war -- to hold itself together. But it also struggled to find its own literary voice; to speak "American" and write "American." It struggled to break free of the European traditions that colonists and immigrants brought with them from "the old country." Even the founding fathers, while striking the Declaration of Independence and drafting the Constitution borrowed on the deep traditions and learnings of European history. As the country progessed and its identity grew, a strong and unique voice, an American voice began to emerge in its writings and letters. This new literacy was rich in the thoughts and feelings of a free people; a unique voice borne of the uniquely American experience.

This section of American Literature will focus on the rise of this new voice -- "crying in the wilderness" -- seeking to define itself. Over time, I hope to move beyond traditional "Western American History" (e.g. the experience of the European settlers and other immigrants) and venture to include contributions from Native American Indians and African American slaves.
Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Thomas Jefferson

U.S. Congress, Senate, and States

Winston Churchill

Thomas Paine

James Madison

Frederick Douglass

Booker T. Washington

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Charles W. Chesnutt

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Henry David Thoreau

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Walt Whitman

Louisa May Alcott

Frances Scott Key

Thomas Nelson Page

Anne Hollingsworth Wharton

Jack London

Do you have an historical figure or document in the public domain that you'd like us to add?
Please email your suggestions to

You may also be interested in our African American Library.

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Anton Chekhov
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Susan Glaspell
Mark Twain
Edgar Allan Poe
Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Herman Melville
Stephen Leacock
Kate Chopin
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson