Nathaniel Hawthorne

American History

A literary perspective


Our Banner In the Sky
Frederic Edwin Church, After Attack on Fort Sumter, 1860
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. In addition to the historical figures below, we offer Reference Documents, an African American Library, Civil War Stories and World War I Literature.
We also added a new collection of American Biographies for Kids & Adults.


Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

Daniel Webster

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Franklin D. Roosevelt

George Washington

Robert E. Lee

Theodore Roosevelt

Thomas Jefferson

Ulysses S. Grant

U.S. Congress, Senate, and States

Winston Churchill

Benjamin Franklin

Thomas Paine

Alexander Hamilton

James Madison

Henry David Thoreau

Frederick Douglass

Walt Whitman

Adoption of the US Constitution
Adoption of the U.S. Constitution

Robert Frost

Louisa May Alcott

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Oliver Wendell Holmes

J. Hector St. John de Crevoecoeur

Letters from an American Farmer
What is an American?

Booker T. Washington

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Charles W. Chesnutt

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Clara Barton

Ambrose Bierce

Stephen Crane

Frances Scott Key

Thomas Nelson Page

Edward Payson Roe

James Baldwin

Jack London


Reference Documents

Emancipation Proclamation
Emancipation Proclamation

United States Declaration of Independence

United States Constitution

U.S. Bill of Rights

Amendments to the U.S. Constitution

Reconstruction Amendments

Emancipation Proclamation

Common Sense - Thomas Paine

The Federalist Papers - Hamilton/Madison/Jay

On Civil Disobedience - Henry David Thoreau


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


You may also be interested in the African American Library, Civil War Stories and World War I Literature to better understand history by authors who experienced it.

Return to American Literature Home Page

facebook share button twitter share button google plus share button tumblr share button reddit share button share by email button share on pinterest pinterest

Am Lit - Pinterest